January 17, 2020

Flybe Rescue May Include U.K. Subsidies for Some Routes
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.The U.K. government is considering subsidizing some routes operated by regional airline Flybe as part of the rescue deal struck with the owners of the country’s biggest domestic carrier, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.Any decision to grant Flybe routes so-called public service obligation status would come on top of a deferral of air passenger duty payments and a proposed government loan, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing details not disclosed in the initial blueprint.Only one Flybe service, from London Heathrow airport to Newquay in the far southwest of England, currently benefits from U.K. government aid through the PSO mechanism. Another, linking Cardiff with the island of Anglesey, is funded by the Welsh Assembly.Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week took the unusual step of coming to the aid of Flybe as it teetered on the brink of collapse. Johnson said he intervened because a loss of the airline would have left some of the most economically challenged parts of the country with diminished transport links, given the relative lack of suitable alternatives such as high-speed trains.The Department for Transport “will lead the review and consider a number of options for ensuring that we continue to have good regional connectivity, including existing policy levers such as PSOs,“ it said in a statement to Bloomberg. “It is important that all options are properly considered.”A representative for Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., part of the Connect Airways consortium that owns Flybe, declined to comment. A call to Flybe wasn’t immediately returned.‘Communications Fiasco’British Airways owner IAG SA said Flybe’s rescue had become a “communications fiasco,” in response to news on the likely addition of PSO routes. “The sooner the government comes clean, the better,” it said in an email. IAG has filed a complaint about the tax deferral to the European Union.“We stand ready to discuss with the U.K. the compatibility of proposed public measures with EU state aid rules,” the European Commission said in a statement.Further details of the rescue emerged Thursday, with Stobart Group, another partner in the consortium, saying it injected 9 million pounds ($12 million). Based on their holdings, Virgin would have supplied a similar sum and private-equity firm Cyrus Capital provided 12 million pounds. That’s on top of 110 million pounds committed after they bought Flybe in 2019.An evaluation of PSO designations will begin immediately, while a state loan to Flybe granted on commercial terms is likely to be finalized in coming weeks, said the person.The APD deferral, which the government says concerns a debt of less than 10 million pounds, will apply for 60 to 90 days, according to the person. A review of the tax regime for domestic routes could see the 13 pound charge levied once rather than on outbound and return flights, the person said. The outcome of deliberations will be revealed in Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s March budget.Johnson has faced criticism for stepping in to save Flybe after Monarch Airlines, Flybmi and Thomas Cook Group Plc all failed in the past 2 1/2 years, with environmental campaigners saying the rescue was inconsistent with the government’s commitment to slash carbon emissions.Ryanair Holdings Plc, which is based in Ireland but counts the U.K. as its biggest market, said Flybe’s business model is unsustainable and that a company backed by Virgin founder Richard Branson and a private equity firm shouldn’t qualify for government help. It also said the APD tax “holiday” should extend to competitors including Ryanair, BA and EasyJet Plc.Stobart shares rose as much as 2.9% in London. Virgin and Cyrus aren’t listed. Ryanair and EasyJet pared gains.Cities Cut Off and Airports at Risk: What’s at Stake at FlybeFlybe was delisted in March after its purchase by Connect Airways for 2.2 million pounds. The carrier, which employs 2,400 people, has struggled for years with the narrow margins on regional routes, where demand is lower, together with fluctuating fuel prices and uncertainty around Brexit.Under European Union transport law, governments or other authorities can offer subsidized PSO contracts in an auction for those routes deemed vital for the economic and social development of a region, and which would otherwise not be attractive to an airline.There were 176 such routes in the bloc as of Sept. 18 last year. The U.K. government currently funds three PSOs; Flybe’s Newquay flights - which will switch to London Gatwick from Heathrow this summer -- and trips from the U.K. capital to Dundee in Scotland and Derry in Northern Ireland, both flown by smaller regional carrier Loganair.Loganair also operates most of the 18 PSOs in Scotland funded by the Edinburgh government and local authorities to provide links between outlying islands and to the mainland.(Updates with European Commission comment in eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Thomas Penny, Siddharth Philip, Jeremy Diamond and Aoife White.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Jasper in London at cjasper@bloomberg.net;Guy Johnson in London at gjohnson87@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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