Sun, Jan 22, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Business Briefs

AGENCIES

■ Aviation
Malaysia Airlines hikes rates

Malaysia Airlines yesterday announced sharp increases in fuel surcharges starting next month, the carrier's fourth hike in half a year. "Fuel cost continues to remain as the single largest expense item for all carriers," it said in a statement. "Malaysia Airlines has been taking measures to mitigate this rise in cost by streamlining and matching fuel surcharge rates in line with other airlines," it said. The loss-making airline said that, from Feb. 1, fuel surcharges would rise from US$20 or less to US$50 for routes from Malaysia to South Asian and East Asian destinations. Malaysia Airlines said it would also introduce an administration fee of US$3.70 to US$7, depending on routes, and raise insurance charges for international routes to US$5 from US$1.25 now.

■ Internet

UK online shopping soars

More consumers in the UK logged on to do their holiday shopping last year, with Internet buying rising 50 percent from the previous year, a retail group said on Friday. In the 10 weeks prior to Christmas, online spending totaled £5 billion (US$8.8 billion), up from £3.33 billion in the 2004 holiday season, the Interactive Media in Retail Group said in a statement. Overall last year, UK shoppers spent £19.2 billion at online stores, 32 percent more than the previous year. On average, each of the 24 million people who shopped on the Internet last year spent £816 over the course of the year and £208 in the run-up to Christmas.

■ Software

Microsoft boosts bosses' pay

Microsoft Corp, the world's biggest software maker, increased pay for board members by 27 percent, still lagging behind rivals such as Google Inc. Directors including former JP Morgan Chase chief financial officer Dina Dublon will receive US$200,000 a year, including US$120,000 in stock, spokesman Sean Durkin said yesterday. They previously earned US$50,000 in cash and 4,000 shares, worth US$108,000 at an estimated price of US$27 each, Durkin said. Pay at Microsoft, whose stock price slipped 2.1 percent last year, still trails Google, where the stock doubled last year. Microsoft also raised the value of shares directors are required to hold to US$600,000. Previously they were required to own 4,000 shares, valued at US$105,640 at yesterday's closing price. Directors have five years to reach the new shareholding requirement. The pay package applies to all Microsoft's board members, except chief executive Steve Ballmer and founder Bill Gates.

■ Aviation

United set to exit bankruptcy

United Airlines' reorganization plan won final approval by a judge on Friday, clearing the way for the second-biggest US carrier to come out of bankruptcy in less than two weeks. The ruling by US Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff, after remaining objections to United's reorganization plan were resolved this week, keeps United on a path to emerge from Chapter 11 on Feb. 1 after the largest and longest airline bankruptcy in history. Wedoff said there is "reason to feel good" about United's restructuring, even though it took about twice as long as first projected. "Three years ago United Airlines was in danger of dying," he said. After using bankruptcy law to reorganize, "once again it has the potential to be a profitable investment, a reliable business partner, and a stable employer," Wedoff said.

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