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Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take


■ AirlinesAirAsia expands overseas

Malaysia's no-frills airline AirAsia plans to kick off its first overseas route to Thailand's southern resort island of Phuket from January next year, reports said yesterday. Transport minister Chan Kong Choy said the airline would fly from Malaysia's northern Langkawi island. Chan was reported by the Star daily as saying Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his Thai counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra discussed conducting joint promotions of the two islands last month. The airline, which currently owns 11 Boeing 737 aircrafts, is legendary for its ticket fares which can go lower than bus tickets. AirAsia serves 13 destinations in Malaysia and 45 percent of its bookings are made through an Internet booking facility. The airline first began domestic flights in Dec. 2001, and in the fiscal year ending June, the company posted a net profit of 30 million ringit (US$7.9 million).

■ Telecom

KDDI goes to China

KDDI Corp, Japan's second-largest mobile-phone operator, plans to offer data-communication services in China. The introduction comes as more Japanese companies in China are in need of communicating with their headquarters at home, Tokyo-based KDDI spokesman Yosuke Fukuma said, partially confirming an earlier report in the Nihon Keizai newspaper. KDDI will form a venture with a Chinese company to install and maintain computer systems, the paper said, adding the partnership will begin next year. KDDI will also set up two sales offices in China this year, the report said. KDDI expects to double sales from data services in China to more than ¥10 billion in the year ending March 2006, Fukuma said.

■ Germany

Recession is official

Germany's economy shrank by 0.1 percent in the first quarter compared to the quarter before, the state statistical agency said yesterday, confirming the country slid into a shallow recession. The second-quarter figure follows a 0.2 percent contraction in the first quarter, and two consecutive quarters of falling output is one common definition of recession. Technically, Germany was already in a recession, since the zero growth figure from the last quarter of last year was rounded up from a minuscule 0.03 percent drop. Compared to the second quarter a year ago, the economy shrank 0.6 percent. Germany is mired in a third year of near-zero growth, a source of political embarrassment to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because the weak growth hasn't been enough to create new jobs.

■ Telecom

Unions go to customers

Unions of Verizon Communications Inc, seeking an edge in contract talks that have stalled over job-security issues, opened a Web site to collect names of customers willing to switch their service to AT&T Corp. The unions of the largest US local-phone company are asking 3.5 million union members and their families who are Verizon customers in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia to add their names to the list. The telephone service would be switched if the talks break down or Verizon unilaterally transfers jobs, the unions said. The contract expired Aug. 3. Verizon has been negotiating with its unions since mid-June, trying to avoid a strike that could cause phone-repair and installation delays in 13 states.

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