Published: 08 June 2021
The CEOs of American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways are calling for the UK/US travel corridor to be fully opened. In a joint virtual press conference ahead of the G7 summit meeting (to be held in Cornwall this coming weekend), they said re-opening would be "essential to igniting economic recovery" and that high vaccination rates in both the US and UK meant travel could restart safely after more than a year of restrictions. Nearly all passengers from the UK are currently banned from travelling to the US; under a presidential decree introduced last March, non-US citizens who have been in the UK in the last 14 days cannot enter the country unless a specific exemption applies. Travellers from the US to the UK must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival as the country is on the "amber list".
Business chiefs have made a fresh plea for government action on rent debts and hardship caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. Yahoo Finance reports that Kate Nicholls, chief executive at UK Hospitality told a Treasury select committee hearing yesterday that the hospitality sector is facing "economic long COVID" as a result of the hefty debt burdens businesses have been left with. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium and Mark Tanzer, chief executive at travel association ABTA also stressed their concerns about tapered support and uncertainty around reopening. “It's fair to say that the measures put in place have not always been sufficient to weather a sustained hit on revenue,” said Nicholls, noting that average hospitality monthly costs are between £10,000 and £20,000, while the average government support was £3,000 per month. Tanzer said he feared "losing a generation" of travel companies and that the UK's vaccination rates should mean the sector is able to reopen at faster rate. He also recommended a change to testing regimes for holidays. Dickinson noted the shift to online has been a sea-change for retailers and that clarity of messaging on encouraging people back into cities and onto high streets would be crucial for recovery.
UK house prices rose another 9.5% in the year to May. The Halifax said prices rose by more than £22,000 to an average of £261,743.
Britain's lowest-paid workers are most at risk of unemployment when the government's furlough scheme ends later this year, according to a new study by the Resolution Foundation think tank. The report said that more than 21% of the lowest-paid workers had either lost their job, lost hours, had pay cut, or were furloughed, by the end of March 2021, compared with less than 7% of top earners. Government statistics released last week showed at least 3.4 million people are still furloughed.
The creation of a "digital pound" may not be viable, the Bank of England hinted in a discussion paper published yesterday on the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the UK. Governor Andrew Bailey said: "It is essential that we ask the difficult and pertinent questions when it comes to the future of these new forms of digital money…one of the biggest risks of a digital pound would be the potential for digital money to undermine confidence in money and payments and in the financial system as a whole.” The bank launched its CBDC taskforce in collaboration with the Treasury in April. It said at the time that any CBDC would be a new form of digital money that could be used by both households and businesses, and which would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them. Like other forms of cryptocurrency, CBDCs are a form of virtual money that uses an electronic record or digital token to represent cash, Yahoo Finance says. It is issued and regulated by a country’s monetary authority, which in the UK is the Bank of England; a key difference to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, which are decentralised and unregulated.
Global payments startup Bottlepay, a Venmo-like app for cryptocurrencies, launches in Europe today, allowing users to make fee-free transactions in euro and bitcoin via Twitter. Bottlepay is backed by billionaire Alan Howard, the co-founder of hedge fund Brevan Howard, and is powered by the Lightning Network. A single tweet — for example ‘@bottlepay send @recipient €10’ — will instantly send the command to move the specified quantity of euro from one user’s account to another, Yahoo Finance reports. The company launched in the UK earlier this year and funds sent in sterling from Britain to Europe can be set to automatically convert to Euro or bitcoin and vice versa.
The former owner of Formula One motor racing is in talks about a $600m deal that could transform the face of global tennis by combining the organisers of the men's and women's tours under a single commercial entity. Sky News has learnt that CVC Capital Partners is in advanced negotiations about an investment in the merged professional tours and is said to be targeting approval from the ATP and WTA boards later this month. If they come to fruition, the plans would see the ATP and WTA's commercial activities unified under the name One Tennis, in which CVC would hold a minority interest.
Google has been fined €220m (£189m) by France’s competition watchdog for abusing its advertising power. The French authority said Google has been promoting its own online advertising services to the detriment of rivals and found Google's ad management platform for large publishers, Google Ad Manager, favoured the company's own online ad marketplace, Google AdX. To settle the case, Google has for the first time ever agreed to make changes to its advertising business, which brings in the bulk of its revenue. "The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it's the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies," said France's antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.
Apple has announced a raft of new privacy protections including a "private relay" function which hides users' web browsing behaviour from Apple, internet providers and advertisers. The follows global pressure on Apple to cut down on user data tracking. However, the feature will not be available to users in China, in the latest compromise to the country, where 15% of Apple’s revenue comes from. The Internet is closely controlled in China, which also employs an extensive surveillance system on its residents, the BBC says.
There are suggestions that Amazon may still end up paying less tax, despite the historic G7 global tech tax deal reported here yesterday. The deal applies to global firms with at least a 10% profit margin, but the tech giant only had a profit margin of 6.3% last year, despite having a market value of $1.62tn (£1.15tn) and sales of $386bn in 2020. “Based on the communique, Amazon is not captured,” Paul Monaghan, chief executive of the Fair Tax Foundation, said. “If there’s another layer of detail that suggests Amazon will be captured, that's great, but it hasn’t emerged yet.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he will travel into space with his brother next month, along with the winner of an auction set up by his aerospace company Blue Origin. “I want to go on this flight because it's a thing. It's an adventure - it's a big deal for me," he said on Instagram, adding: "Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother." The auction price of the third passenger seat on the spacecraft has reached $3.2 million according to financial website Motley Fool, and with five more days to go, Bezos’ presence on the flight will no doubt push the final cost of the winning bid even higher.
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