LONDON (Reuters) – Britain could cut air passenger taxes on all domestic flights to help rescue struggling regional airline Flybe, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
Finance minister Sajid Javid will meet later with representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT) and Business to discuss the tax and a possible deferring of Flybe’s bill, the corporation said.
A possible deal could allow Flybe to defer a payment of more than 100 million pounds ($130 million) for three years, according to Sky News. Under the plan, Flybe’s owners would be required to invest tens of millions of pounds in fresh equity into the company as a condition of any deal.
Flybe’s flights appeared to be operating as normal on Tuesday, a day after news reports emerged suggesting it needed to quickly raise new funds to help it survive through the winter when demand for travel is lower.
That has heaped pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government which was elected in December. His Conservative party won new seats across regions served by Flybe, helped by a promise to improve connectivity between UK cities beyond London.
Flybe’s network of routes include more than half of UK domestic flights outside London.
Based in Exeter, south west England, it connects smaller cities such as Southampton to Newcastle and carries 8 million passengers a year between 71 airports in the UK and Europe.
Air Passenger Duty is a tax of at least 13 pounds levied by the UK government on passengers departing from UK airports which the aviation industry has long opposed as making them less competitive compared to their European rivals.
Flybe has in the past argued that the tax disproportionately affects it, making its flights more expensive compared to its rail and road competitors, because passengers traveling on return flights within the UK will pay it twice.
The DfT and Flybe declined to comment, while the finance department could not immediately be reached for comment.
Should the government cut APD for domestic UK flights, other airlines such as easyJet and British Airways , which fly routes such as London to Edinburgh, would also benefit.
Flybe has 68 aircraft and about 2,000 staff and was already struggling financially when it was bought by Connect Airways, a consortium created by Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment adviser Cyrus Capital for $2.8 mln last year.
The airline, due to be rebranded Virgin Connect later this year, has suffered as the fuel price has risen in recent months, and news stories about its demise could cause a cash flow squeeze as potential customers stop booking.
Should Flybe collapse, it would be the second high-profile failure in Britain’s travel industry in less than six months after Thomas Cook went into liquidation last September, stranding thousands of passengers.
That followed the collapse of UK holiday airline Monarch in 2017 and Flybe competitor FlyBMI last year.
(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle and Kate Holton)
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After issuing social media plea, Saint John, N.B., woman still waiting for live kidney donor – Globalnews.ca
A Saint John woman who made a social media plea last year for someone to donate a kidney to her is still waiting and hoping.
Kara Phinney was born with small kidneys. She said her health has been pretty good since childhood, despite numerous medical appointments and constant bloodwork.
“I’m working two jobs, so, I mean, I’m doing okay,” said the 26-year-old.
“You have your good and bad days.”
A bad day can include extreme fatigue, among other things.
Phinney has been on home dialysis for more than year. It runs nine hours per day. She said she does it at night and sleeps through the majority of it, but it does wake her up if she inadvertently rolls over on the tubing.
Phinney’s mother, Patti, went through a lengthy testing process to become a potential donor for her daughter, but was rejected.
“All in all it was quite a disappointment, thinking you’re going to give her this gift and it’s not going to happen,” Patti Phinney said.
“And then, you know, what’s the next phase?”
Just over a year ago, Kara posted a plea on Facebook asking for someone to donate a kidney to her. She said it was shared thousands of times, and got another round of shares when it popped up as a memory on her profile.
She said she turned to social media to help raise awareness about the need for donations, both for herself and others.
“I don’t really tell people about it,” Kara said of her condition.
“A lot of people found out from it because you don’t really see that I’m sick. It looks like everything is fine, but it’s not.”
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Interim Health Services Manager of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program (MOTP) of Atlantic Canada Shelby Kennedy said social media is becoming a more common way for people seeking organs to try to find someone willing to make a live donation.
However, she cautioned that some posts include too much personal information, which could be misused.
Kennedy said she sees merit in the use of social media, but stressed that it needs to be done safely.
“So we’re trying to work with recipient and donor sides to make that more of an option if that’s the route that you choose to go to try to get a transplant,” Kennedy said.
“We’ve seen some successes across Canada with those, but we have not seen it happen here in Atlantic Canada.”
MOTP performs all transplants for Atlantic Canadians in Halifax. Kennedy said there have been nine kidney transplants on New Brunswick residents in 2020, including two live donations.
She admits that’s about half the usual figure for this time of year, but the numbers were impacted by COVID-19-related cancellations of all transplants for more than six weeks.
The Phinneys are hopeful New Brunswick follows Nova Scotia’s lead in enacting a presumed consent law, which will require people to opt out of donating organs, rather than opting in.
That Nova Scotia law comes into effect in January.
“I think it’s going to help a lot of people,” Kara said.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Patti. “And I think they’re going to have to encourage doctors and specialists to come to Halifax to be able to perform (these surgeries).”
Kara’s brother-in-law is now being tested to see if he could donate to her. He went through testing once before, but the tests expired and had to be redone.
As she seeks a live donor, Kara is not on the wait list for a kidney from a deceased person. She said people on the wait list have to drop everything and rush to the hospital once they get the call that a kidney is available for them.
As long as she stays reasonably healthy, she said, she’ll continue to aim for a live donor.
“You get stressful some days,” she said. “I think if you overthink about it, is when it gets a little more stressful and frustrating.
“And it is frustrating, you know. It’s a wait.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Packed, Maskless Great White Show Reminds Social Media of Band’s Tragic Concert Past – Variety
Unsafe concert conditions seem to know no genre boundaries in the mid-pandemic era. Two weekends ago, it was country artists Chase Rice and Chris Janson stirring outrage when they proudly posted videos of themselves playing to packed crowds of fans with no masks in sight. Last weekend, it was hip-hop star DaBaby in the hot seat for playing a show in a large, packed nightclub where his unmasked female fans were literally reaching out and grabbing him.
Now the attention has turned to veteran hard-rock band Great White, which performed an outdoor show Thursday night for a general admission audience in North Dakota, many of whom posted videos giving no indication of even a single mask in the crowd, with fans jammed together, and even shirtless in some instances.
As the lack of protocols at the show came up for scorn on social media, it was not lost on many commenters that, if there is any band that might want to avoid being mentioned in the same breath as “unsafe concert conditions,” it’s Great White,
“Great White doing a precaution-free concert right now is like if Great White were to do a precaution-free concert right now,” jabbed writer Evie Nagy — one of countless references Twitter users made to the 2003 tragedy in which 100 people were killed and 230 more injured in a pyrotechnic-related fire at a Great White show in Rhode Island.
In the tradition of Rice and Janson posting photos and videos of their caution-to-the-wind packed crowds, it was Great White singer Mitch Malloy himself who posted the most circulated video from the show.
Late Saturday night, the group issued a statement that emphasized that emphasized that the show went well while saying they consider themselves “far from perfect” and offering an apology “to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.”
“We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time,” the group said. “We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota’s government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws. We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement. The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community. We are far from perfect.”
The group’s statement did not specify what safety precautions the promoter assured them about.
One difference between the show performed by Great White in North Dakota and the controversial gigs by Rice, Janson and DaBaby is that there wasn’t even the promise of social distancing Thursday, as organizers said ahead of time that none would be enforced or even encouraged.
“We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don’t have any,” event coordinator April Getz told the local Dickinson Press in touting the city’s “First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights” programming last month. (Grand White was the only act of national renown announced for the series.) ““I guess it’s one of the first events this year that didn’t get canceled and was approved by the city; we’re all very, very excited about it… It’s one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that’s their personal choice. We’re leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend.”
Although they were in the minority, there were some on social media defending Dickinson’s and the band’s right to put on shows with no coronavirus-related restrictions and fans’ right to attend.
“People are INSANE about masks right now,” wrote one Twitter user. “People are actually looking for pictures around the country of people not wearing masks to get pissed about. If you’re mad people in North Dakota at a Great White concert aren’t wearing masks, get out of the house and get a hobby.”
The version of the band that played Thursday in North Dakota has three members who have been with the group since the 1980s, along with lead singer Mitch Malloy, who joined in 2018. It is not to be confused with “Jack Russell’s Great White,” a spinoff group started by original singer Russell in 2011.
Russell is probably hoping no one associates him with this version of Great White or the North Dakota show, judging from recent omments he made strongly favoring the use of masks.
“There’s no need to be out [in public places],” Russell said in an interview with Austria’s Mulatschag that was found and publicized by Blabbermouth. “People don’t take it seriously — they don’t take the virus seriously. It’s sad. …It’s no small wonder that when you open all these places up, ‘Gee, the numbers [of coronavirus cases] rose up.’ It’s, like, what did you think was gonna happen? It’s, like, ‘I took my mask off and I got COVID.’ Well, what a big surprise that is.” Russell added, “If you don’t wanna help yourself, help everybody else. ‘Well, it’s my right. It’s my human right.’ Well, look, dude, you’ve gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you’ve gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver’s license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don’t die. What’s the problem?”
The version of Great White fronted by Malloy doesn’t have any other dates listed on its tour schedule before August 7, when it is booked for Riverfest FM in Fort Madison, Iowa, billed as “Southeast Iowa’s largest rock and roll festival.” That five-day festival in four weeks is “absolutely happening,” according to posts on the fest’s Facebook page. “With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year,” Riverfest said, “but we firmly believe that ‘If we rock it, they will come’ and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that!”
North Dakota has not been ravaged by COVID-19 as much as other states have, largely by virtue of a mostly rural population. Nonetheless, the state has seen rapid recent upticks. As of Saturday, North Dakota’s Department of Health reported 623 active cases, double the number from just 10 days earlier. Ninety of those cases were being newly reported Saturday. Earlier in the week, the state’s total case count was reported at 4,070.
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