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Southwest promises refund as airline sees ‘confirmed’ financial impact by Reuters

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© Reuters. Southwest Airlines passengers wait in line at the baggage services counter after US airlines, led by Southwest, canceled thousands of flights due to a massive winter storm that swept across much of the country before and during the Christmas holidays.

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Written by Doina Chiacco and David Shepherdson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines has promised to reimburse passengers for expenses like hotels and rental cars as well as refund tickets after it canceled thousands of flights due to a massive winter storm and said there would be unspecified damage to its earnings.

“There will definitely be an impact on the fourth quarter,” Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Green told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “We’re… working through all the financial elements of this. We’ll share that information when we’ve got it all together and are ready to do so.”

Some analysts estimate that the collapse could reduce up to 9% of Southwest’s fourth-quarter earnings.

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During the call, company executives declined to estimate the number of passengers affected by the disruptions since Friday.

While other US carriers got back on their feet relatively quickly, Dallas-based Southwest is still getting back to normal. The carrier canceled at least 16,000 flights in the past week, including nearly 60% of all flights scheduled for Thursday, according to data from FlightAware flight tracker software.

“If you have to make alternative travel arrangements such as hotels, meals, car rentals, and gas for rental cars, those arrangements will be eligible for reimbursement,” Green said, adding that reimbursement will take several weeks.

Cancellations on Friday are expected to drop significantly, with Southwest saying it is “eager to get back to normal” before New Year’s weekend.

Just two months ago, Southwest forecast “strong” fourth-quarter earnings and estimated a 13% to 17% jump in operating revenue.

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Bitter weather was just part of the problem for the Southwest. Its outdated technology has failed flight crewing, and its point-to-point operating structure has wreaked havoc on schedules, the company has admitted it, union members said.

The US government called the airline’s collapse a system failure and vowed to take action.

In a letter to Southwest President Bob Jordan on Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned that the company would be held liable if it did not fulfill its obligations to customers due to “controllable delays and cancellations.”

The company was keen to show that it was turning the page on the debacle, which sent its share price down. Southwest shares closed Thursday up 3.7% as Wall Street rose broadly, in its first day of gains since last Friday.

Jordan apologized for the disruption and said repositioning crew and aircraft in the aftermath of the storms was a “manual process” that took some time, and that a “volunteer army” of paid employees at corporate headquarters was helping with it.

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“I can’t imagine this doesn’t lead to changes in plan” to modernize the airline’s operations, Jordan said, adding that technology improvements were underway but that it was “a large and complex process.”

Employee unions say they have repeatedly warned Southwest management that the airline’s technology systems badly need upgrades.

Flight attendants have been complaining about technological failures at the airline for years, according to Lynn Montgomery, president of the Southwest Airlines (NYSE:) Flight Attendants Association, a local 556 transportation workers union.

“There are a lot of ways that could have been avoided,” Montgomery said Thursday on CNN, noting that that could have included commitments by Southwest executives to ensure that IT infrastructure would be able to meet the growth of Carrier.

The comments echoed those from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which said the leadership had failed to adapt operations to handle frequent systems failures, despite the union’s calls for improvements for years.

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The improvements called for included changes to crew scheduling software and communication tools that would have allowed displaced crews to stay in touch with the company.

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Red Flags That Your Spouse Is Hiding Money (And What To Do About It)

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Marriage can be hard enough without one spouse hiding money from the other.

When financial infidelity occurs in the form of “hidden cash,” a marriage or a live-forever relationship can easily be ended.

The truth is About 30% of American couples suffer from financial infidelity. Other evidence shows that more than 75% of couples describe the hidden money situation as negative and common 10% of these scenarios end in divorce.

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US judge orders Norwegian Cruise Line to pay $110m for use of Cuba port By Reuters

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© Reuters. Norwegian American Airlines cruise ship Marina arrives in Havana Bay, Cuba on March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Meneghini/File/File Photo

Written by Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) – Norwegian Shipping Line (NYSE) has to pay $110 million in compensation for the use of a port confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960, a US judge said Friday, marking a significant milestone for Cuban Americans. Who are seeking reparations for the Cold War era. Assets confiscation.

The decision by US District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami follows her decision in March that use of the Havana Cruise Terminal constituted smuggling of forfeited property belonging to the plaintiff, Delaware-registered Havana Docks Corp.

The decision read: “The judgment is made in favor of Plaintiff Havana Docks Corporation and against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd.”

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“The plaintiff was awarded $109,848,747.87 in damages,” it says, adding that the Norwegian must also pay an additional $3 million in legal fees and costs.

Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has sharply criticized the Helms-Burton Act, calling it an extraterritorial violation of international law.

Havana Docks also sued Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE: ), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) and MSC under the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue over the use of property seized in Cuba after 1959.

The ruling could fuel more lawsuits by Cuban exiles pursuing claims, worth $2 billion, according to one estimate, over asset seizures under late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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It may also serve as a reminder to multinational companies of the complexities that can come with doing business in Cuba.

In 2016, US cruise ships began traveling to Cuba for the first time in decades after a détente negotiated by former President Barack Obama eased some provisions of a Cold War US embargo.

But the Trump administration in 2019 ordered a halt to all such cruises amid efforts to pressure Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Washington’s ideological foe.

The Trump administration has also allowed US citizens to sue third parties for using property seized by Cuban authorities, a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that every previous president has waived since the law was passed in 1996.

Havana Docs says Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo for decades, has never compensated it for taking the drug.

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The four cruise lines sued in 2019 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Bloom in March held the companies liable for damages under the Helms-Burton Act, also known as the Libertad Act.

According to the US-Cuban Economic and Trade Council, a nonprofit organization that provides information on relations between the two countries, 5,913 validated claims related to property seized in Cuba represent an estimated liability of nearly $2 billion.

Forty-four lawsuits have been filed under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the organization says.

“For the current plaintiffs of Cuban descent, (the decision) will give them a moment of relief,” said John Cavulich, the group’s president. “It will give them a moment to say ‘You can run but you can’t hide,’” Cavulich said.

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Is a Royal Caribbean or Carnival beverage package worth it?

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An all-inclusive beverage package that gives you access to beer, wine, liquor, bottled water, soda, specialty coffee, and even shakes/juices may cost more than your cruise fare.

This is especially true right now when many cruise cabins are being sold at discounted prices while the drinks package prices have gone up.

Deciding whether to purchase a drink package is a challenge because you have to estimate whether you will be drinking enough to cover the cost. Or, more importantly, whether you’d spend more if you decided not to purchase a drink package.



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