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Singapore reclaims longest flight

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Such a lengthy flight would surely leave your body pleading for mercy if you had to endure it in a cattle-class seat, so the airline has opted to fit the plane with luxurious business seats as well as a number of still-not-that-comfortable-sounding premium economy seats.

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Taking 18 hours and 45 minutes between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Liberty Airport just a short drive from New York City, the service, which starts on October 11, is actually a relaunch after the Asian carrier scrapped the route in 2013 due to running costs.

Having deemed it viable again, the carrier is using Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra-long range) aircraft with 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats for the colossal 10,377-mile (16,700 km) flight. The airline’s other A350-900 aircraft are configured to carry a total 253 passengers instead of the 161 we see here.

In a bid to increase comfort for what sounds like a grueling journey — it does, after all, last just five hours short of an entire day — the aircraft has been designed with special lighting to reduce jet lag (there’s a 12-hour time difference), larger windows, and higher ceilings.

Perhaps wisely, Singapore Airlines also teamed up with health spa resort Canyon Ranch, which has knocked together a wellness plan to ease passengers through a flight that spans half the globe. It includes specially designed menus that focus on hydration, nutrition, and bold flavors; “subtle sleep strategies” to improve rest quality; and guided stretching exercises to ensure that your body doesn’t completely seize up halfway across the Pacific.

For in-flight entertainment, the airline has added 200 hours worth of movies and TV shows to the 1,000 already available as part of its regular services, and for anyone who needs to stay connected even at 38,000 feet, there’s Wi-Fi, though it’s not free.

Seat prices vary according to demand and date, but some passengers have been paying around $4,000 for a premium economy return ticket.

“Singapore Airlines has always taken pride in pushing the boundaries to provide the best possible travel convenience for our customers, and we are pleased to be leading the way with these new non-stop flights using the latest-technology, ultra-long-range [aircraft],” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said in a release.

Singapore Airlines’ new service takes the place of Qatar Airways Doha-to-Auckland, New Zealand, route as the world’s longest flight. That one launched in February 2017 and takes 17 hours and 30 minutes to reach its destination.

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Crisis Deepens as Nissan Issues Fresh Profit Warning Again

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The woes of the Japanese car giant looks to have deepened by the newly issued profit warning by Nissan while it seeks to recover from Carlos Ghosn’s arrest 

The firm had second cut in its forecast within few months by downgrading its projection for net profit in the fiscal year to March 2019 from 410-billion yen ($3.7-billion) to 319-billion yen.

Nissan appeared to acknowledge the recent difficulties surrounding the Ghosn affair, which has cast questions over the company’s own corporate governance.

Reasons for the downgrade are:

“the adverse operating environment facing the company during the fourth quarter, and the impact of recent corporate issues on sales.”

 “additional expenses arising from the implementation of a warranty extension campaign covering certain vehicles sold in the US market.”

The profit warning came as ex-chairman Ghosn awaits his fate after prosecutors hit him with a fourth set of charges over alleged financial misconduct.

 

In February, Nissan already slashed its full-year forecast, as it revealed that nine-month net profit had dropped 45 percent — a decline the firm blamed on rising raw material costs and foreign exchange difficulties.

It was forced to downgrade its net profit forecast for the fiscal year to March to 410 billion-yen, compared to 500-billion yen earlier.

 

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I’ve always wondered, Why do billionaires buy media empires?

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An article by Jordan Murray

Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth, with aims to make publications self-sufficient.

If you had $190 million to spare, what would you spend it on?

If you’re Marc and Lynne Benioff, you’d buy a media empire. The flamboyant CEO of Salesforce and his wife purchased the publication from Meredith Corporation a few weeks ago, quickly distancing themselves from the magazine’s editorial direction.

It was a decision that was made, Marc admits, without much forethought, and its spontaneity is as much a product of his outsized personality as it is of his wealth. Indeed, the large cash infusion represents a boon for Time, but represents only around three per cent of the Benioff’s net wealth. It’s endemic of a larger trend in business of high-earning CEOs bankrolling print media to insulate cultural institutions from economic and technological changes.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

While many are grateful for Benioff’s financial infusion, others are suspicious of his motives and the pressures he might exert on the newspaper’s editorial position. For his part, Benioff has moved to assuage those concerns, with Time’s chief content officer Alan Murray saying the Benioffs were willing to “put journalistic integrity ahead of corporate gains”.

Otherwise, Benioff’s purchase of Time appears to be an effort to preserve the periodical, as opposed to turning it into a vehicle for his political views. That hasn’t comforted some sceptics though, who have witnessed the financially precarious situation that arises when business leaders expect returns on their investments.

Why would anybody buy a newsroom?

It’s easy to compare billionaires with an interest in media empires to Charles Foster Kane, Orson Welles’ ruthless newspaper magnate. The truth is often more complex than that. Some CEOs, like Jeff Bezos, purchase flagging institutions not out of pity but out of a profit motive. Bezos, after all, was initially unmoved at the prospect of purchasing a business that haemorrhaged money and that he didn’t know much about.

However, he saw the opportunity as having a greater sense of rightness to it. “If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

“If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

Nowadays, The Washington Post is profitable, thanks to Bezos’ technological direction as much as his financial contributions. He has remained outside the newsroom, and has instead focused on the newspapers’ economic situation, preferring not to think of his contribution as a “philanthropic endeavour”.

A comparable situation arose for Laurene Powell Jobs, when her Emerson Collective purchased The Atlantic in July 2017, saying that “there’s a door between Emerson and the Atlantic, but it only swings from the Atlantic into Emerson; it doesn’t open in the other direction”.

Like Bezos’ approach, the emphasis wasn’t on editorial direction as much as it was on improving the economic function of the publication itself, which Jobs managed to do. Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth – an often-achievable goal, as newspapers are relatively inexpensive investments – with aims to make the publications self-sufficient.

Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs

Do things always work out?

In contrast to those two particularly fortunate cases, other entrepreneurs aren’t quite as committed to the outcomes of their chosen publication, quickly losing patience with their investment and becoming eager to rid themselves of it.

Perhaps the most notorious example of this is Joe Ricketts, whose purchase of Gothamist prefaced an attempt to merge the idiosyncratic vehicle for snark and culture with his own New York-centric outlet, DNAInfo. The arrangement lasted for only eight months, in which time both newsrooms complained about mismatched agendas. When the staff of both publications attempted to unionise, Ricketts simply shut both down and walked away from the situation.

Similarly, Peter Barbey purchased The Village Voice in 2015 promising that he was “flat-out serious about getting The Voice to be a major Manhattan publication”. Three years later, he unceremoniously shut down printing, citing “business realities”.

Such billionaire investments in newspapers are met with suspicion by the journalists who work for them not because they portend maleficent editorial direction, but because they often become more accountable to the economic concerns of one person. Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

So, what happens next?

In conversation with CNBC, Joshua Benton, director of Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, cited several reasons for why billionaires choose to become involved in media, including “a mixture of … sincere appreciation of the art form, … a desire to see it flourish … [!and!] a sense of civic responsibility”.

Moreover, the chance for growth in an industry that has struggled to adapt to digital distribution is immense and has proven profitable under the right leadership. Ultimately, the emphasis isn’t about establishing a vehicle for personal retribution. It’s about product differentiation and, eventually, financial returns.

It’s not difficult to appreciate how Benioff views the matter; he believes that there are two types of CEOs, those committed to improving the state of the world, and those who are not.

When he purchased Time, he was acting on that impulse, believing that print journalism deserved attention. It doesn’t mean he’s prepared to throw away a significant sum of money. It means that he’s willing to help a beleaguered industry through challenging times, with the sort of leadership and business expertise only an eccentric, carefree CEO can bring.

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