COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

14 October 2021 | Business

South African Airways staff on strike

Union members picketed South Africa's recently resuscitated national airline on Tuesday, complaining about working conditions less than three weeks after the carrier resumed flights following bankruptcy proceedings.

South African Airways (SAA) emerged from a 17-month business rescue this year with hundreds of jobs slashed and a fleet slimmed from 46 to six planes.

It was grounded for a year-and-a-half and only resumed services at the end of September. But remaining staff are disillusioned with the company, prompting action from their representatives. Staff and unionists protested outside the airline's offices in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"So many of the old SAA's problems have been carried over into the new airline," said a joint statement by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association.

The unions claim workers placed on a "training layoff scheme" were not re-hired, while others have seen their salaries and employment benefits cut.

Once Africa's second-largest airline after Ethiopian Airlines, SAA had survived for decades on government bailouts and was shedding routes even before the pandemic hit. -Nampa/AFP

American Airlines sees smaller loss

American Airlines estimated on Tuesday a smaller-than-expected adjusted loss for the third quarter and signalled improved bookings for the rest of the year, betting on increased holiday demand and a lifting of travel bans.

US carriers had tempered their outlooks for the September quarter as the Delta coronavirus variant slowed new bookings and drove up cancellations, but a recent fall in Covid-19 cases has raised hopes that passengers would be confident to fly again.

The Biden administration's plan to reopen the United States in November to air travellers from Europe has added to the optimism. The trans-Atlantic route is one of the most lucrative ones in the world and accounted for up to 17% of 2019 passenger revenues for the big three US carriers.

American Airlines said it was "planning for a robust peak travel period in the fourth quarter." Shares of the company were up 1% at US$20.32 in morning trade.

The company expects net loss excluding items to be between US$620 million and US$675 million in the third quarter. Analysts on average expect a loss of US$741.7 million, according to Refinitiv data.-Nampa/Reuters

Toyota to make up lost production

Toyota Motor Corp in December wants to restart production curtailed by component shortages with a rebound in shipments from pandemic-hit suppliers that may help it claw back around a third of output lost to supply disruptions, three sources familiar with the carmaker's plans said.

Toyota last month cut its production target for the financial year to end-March by 300 000 vehicles to 9 million units because rising Covid-19 infections slowed work at parts factories in Malaysia and Vietnam, compounding a global chip shortage that has forced it and other big automakers to curtail output.

The Japanese carmaker has asked suppliers to make up for lost production so it can build an additional 97 000 vehicles between December and the end of March, with some considering additional weekend shifts to do so, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to talk to the media.

"Nothing has yet been decided about production plans beyond November," a Toyota spokesperson said.

Toyota, which had hardened its supply chain against disruptions after the 2011 earthquake that devastated Japan's northeast coast, was the last of the major automakers to revise down production plans because of parts shortages. -Nampa/Reuters

LVMH 3Q sales grew by 20%

Sales at French luxury giant LVMH grew by 20% in the third quarter, fuelled by appetite for high-end fashion from consumers eager to splash out following months of pandemic lockdowns.

LVMH, which sells a range of luxury products spanning Moët & Chandon champagne and Bulgari timepieces, said on Tuesday like-for-like sales, stripping out the effect of foreign exchange fluctuations, rose to 15.51 billion euros (US$17.90 billion) in the three months to September.

Growth was roughly in line with an analyst consensus forecast for a 21% rise cited by Barclays, after a stellar second quarter which saw revenues surge by 84%.

Compared to 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, sales at the end of September were 11% higher, the same rate as in the first half.

LVMH's fashion and leather goods division, the group's largest business accounting for nearly half of group sales, posted 24% growth, lifted by the popularity of its star labels Louis Vuitton and Dior. -Nampa/Reuters

GSK on track with consumer split

GlaxoSmithKline is "firmly on track" to spin off its consumer health business next year, the British drugmaker said on Tuesday, after Bloomberg News reported the unit could attract bids from private equity firms such as Advent, CVC and KKR.

The division, which makes Sensodyne toothpaste, and Advil and Panadol painkillers, could also draw interest from big pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies, the report said, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter.

It added the unit could be valued at 40 billion pounds (US$54 billion) or more. A GSK spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company had received takeover interest in the division, a joint venture with US drugmaker Pfizer.

The report sent London-listed GSK's shares as much as 4.8% higher to 1 460.2 pence.

"GSK is far advanced with its plan for the separation of Consumer Healthcare," the GSK representative said, adding the drugmaker was on course for the split in mid-2022.-Nampa/Reuters

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