Archive for May 3rd, 2010

03
May
10

Ireland may have to restrict airspace due to ash

NEWS
Ireland may have to restrict airspace due to ash

Monday, May 3, 2010

Earth

••• The new ban will apply from 07:00 am to 01:00 pm IST (06:00 am – 12:00 pm GMT / 02:00 am – 08:00 am EDT) on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. » The next update will be at approximately 08:00 pm IST (07:00 pm GMT / 03:00 pm EDT).
••• Ireland may have to re-impose a flight ban in its airspace as ash from an Icelandic volcano drifts towards it, the Irish Aviation Authority said on Monday.

The body said it had ‘informed Irish-based airlines that it is concerned that Irish airports may be impacted by the drift south of the volcanic ash cloud caused by the north easterly winds’.

‘Current information from the Volcanic Ash Advice Centre (VAAC) suggests that a ‘no fly zone’ may have to be imposed over Ireland tomorrow that may affect Dublin, Shannon and some regional airports,’ it said.

Airspace across Europe was closed down for up to a week last month after the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull, but was re-opened after emergency talks between European governments, airlines and regulators.
» Check your flight information here: Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, easyJet, Flybe
» Millions watch Iceland volcano online
» Predicted ash concentration charts
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03
May
10

Times Square Vehicle’s Owner ‘Not a Suspect’

NEWS
Times Square Vehicle’s Owner ‘Not a Suspect’

Monday, May 3, 2010

A law enforcement official says the registered owner of an SUV used in a botched bombing in Times Square told investigators he sold it for cash three weeks ago.

The official tells The Associated Press that the Connecticut owner questioned on Sunday about what happened to the SUV says he sold the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder to a stranger.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP on Monday because the investigation is at a sensitive stage.

Investigators interviewed the last owner on record of the vehicle in a probe of a failed bombing that cleared several streets around Times Square of thousands of tourists on a busy Saturday night.

Officials say the owner, whose name has not been released, is not considered a suspect.

Police said the crude petrol-and-propane bomb discovered on Saturday at Times Square could have produced ‘a significant fireball’ and sprayed shrapnel and metal parts with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows. The SUV was parked on one of America’s busiest streets, lined with Broadway theatres and restaurants and full of people out on a Saturday night.

The area bounced back quickly and had returned to its normal bustle on a rainy Monday morning.

Police released a photograph of the SUV as it crossed an intersection at 6.28pm EDT. A handbag vendor pointed out the SUV to an officer about two minutes later.

President Barack Obama on Monday telephoned the vendor, Duane Jackson, 58, of Buchanan, New York, to commend him for alerting authorities to the smoking SUV. The White House said Obama thanked Jackson for his vigilance and for acting quickly to prevent serious trouble.

On Sunday, Bloomberg took NYPD officer Wayne Rhatigan of the mounted police force out for a steak dinner a few blocks from the bombing attempt. Rhatigan had quickly moved tourists out of the way when he was told of the smoking SUV.

Paul Browne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information, said officials were still looking for the driver.

The vehicle identification number on the 1993 dark-coloured Nissan Pathfinder had been removed from the dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine and axle. Its licence plates came from a car found in a Connecticut repair shop.

Investigators were also looking on Monday to speak with a man in his 40s videotaped shedding his shirt near the sport utility vehicle where the bomb was found.

The surveillance video, made public late on Sunday, shows an unidentified white man apparently in his 40s slipping down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another underneath. In the same clip, he looks back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively puts the first shirt in a bag.

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that investigators have some good leads in addition to the videotape of the man. Holder said in remarks to reporters that it was too early to say whether the incident was of foreign or domestic origin or to designate it as terrorism.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on NBC’s Today show on Monday that no suspects or theories had been ruled out. ‘Right now, every lead has to be pursued,’ she said.

And investigators had not ruled out a range of possible motives. The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility for the car bomb in three videos that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said. New York officials said police have no evidence to support the claims.

Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Monday on Fox News that there was no intelligence chatter before Saturday, making a foreign connection unlikely.

The SUV was parked near offices of Viacom Inc, which owns Comedy Central. The network recently aired an episode of the animated show South Park that the group Revolution Muslim had complained insulted the Prophet Mohammed by depicting him in a bear costume.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned that the man on the tape may not become a suspect but urged him to come forward.

‘He may or may not have been involved,’ he said, adding it was a hot day and he might simply have been trying to cool off.
• Source(s): Associated Press and Thomson Reuters

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03
May
10

United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

NEWS
United Airlines and Continental merge to create world’s biggest operator

Monday, May 03, 2010

••• Directors at Continental and United airlines have approved a deal that would combine them into the world’s largest airline, a source said.

The stock-swap deal values Continental at about $3.2 billion.

The Sunday board actions were described by a person with knowledge of the votes, who declined to be identified because the companies plan an announcement on Monday.

Combining Continental and United would leave the US with three big international airlines – the new United, Delta, and American. U.S. Airways Group Inc also flies internationally, but its 2009 international traffic was less than one-third the size of American’s.

The combined airline will be called United, based in United’s hometown of Chicago, and run by Continental CEO Jeffery Smisek. United CEO Glenn Tilton will be chairman.

United, a unit of UAL Corp, is the nation’s third-largest carrier by traffic. Continental Airlines Inc, in Houston, is the country’s fourth biggest.

Any deal would need the approval of antitrust regulators. The Justice Department approved Delta Air Lines Inc’s purchase of Northwest in 2008, which turned Delta into the world’s biggest carrier.

Another key issue in putting the two airlines together will be integrating the pilot workforce.

A union hot line message to United pilots on Sunday said the ‘union remains engaged in this issue, and if a merger is announced by United and Continental’, union officials ‘are fully prepared to protect and defend the interests of all United pilots’.

Continental and United both trace their roots to air services founded by Walter Varney in the 1920s and 30s.

One of United’s main attractions is its Pacific routes, which it bought from Pan-Am in 1985. It was already the biggest carrier in the U.S., and the Pan-Am deal made it a major international carrier for the first time. Northwest’s Pacific routes were one reason Delta pursued that deal two years ago.

Continental jumped in size in 1987 by swallowing Frontier, People Express and New York Air.

Both airlines shrank to cope with the recession. United cut capacity 7.4 percent last year, and Continental shrank 5.2 percent.

And they’ve both been losing money. Continental reported a 2009 loss of $282 million as revenue plunged 17.4 percent to $12.59 billion. UAL lost $651 million for the year as revenue fell 19.1 percent to $16.34 billion.

The market capitalisation for UAL Corp on Friday was $3.62 billion, while Continental’s was $3.12 billion.

Just two years ago, American Airlines was the nation’s biggest carrier. First Delta surpassed it, and now United might. More than pride is at stake. Corporate travellers gravitate toward airlines with the most routes.

On April 8, when there was talk that United and U.S. Airways were discussing a deal, American CEO Gerard Arpey said the company was ‘not in any way threatened’ by the merger talk involving other carriers.

‘We think we’re in a very good position irrespective of what may happen,’ he said at the time.

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