More stories

  • in

    U.S. flight disruptions finally ease as the holiday weekend winds down

    By midday Monday, fewer than 1,000 flights were delayed in the U.S.
    Earlier in the weekend, airlines had canceled hundreds of flights while more than 10,000 were delayed.
    Demand was expected to spike over the long weekend.

    Lighted tunnel in the United Airlines terminal, O’Hare International Airport, Chicago Illinois.
    Andrew Woodley | Universal Images Group via Getty Images

    U.S. airline delays eased on Monday as weather improved, a relief for travelers and airlines as the July Fourth holiday weekend comes to an end.
    As of Monday afternoon, about 1,200 U.S. flights were delayed and 183 were canceled, down from nearly 4,700 delays and more than 300 cancellations a day earlier, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

    This year through July 3, 2.8% of the more than 4.1 million flights scheduled by U.S. airlines were canceled, up from 2.1% of the more than 4.74 million flights scheduled in the same period, according to FlightAware. And so far this year, 20.2% of flights were delayed, up from 16.7%.
    about a fifth of U.S. airlines’ flights were delayed and 2.8% canceled, up from 2.1% canceled over the same period of 2019.
    The weekend was key for airlines as executives expected a surge of travelers after more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Passengers shelled out more for tickets as fares surpassed 2019 levels.
    Industry staffing shortages, many the result of buyouts that airlines urged workers to take during the pandemic, have exacerbated routine challenges like bad weather.
    U.S. airline executives will begin detailing their summer performances and providing updated outlooks for the year in quarterly reports starting midmonth. A big question is what happens after the summer-travel peak fades, as many children in the U.S. go back to school in August.

    Airlines spent the last few weeks focusing on limiting summer travel disruptions. Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and others have trimmed their schedules to give themselves more room to recover when things go wrong, such as when thunderstorms hit major airline hubs over the weekend.
    Airlines and federal transportation officials have pointed fingers at one another in recent days over the cause of the flight disruptions. Airlines blamed air traffic control for lengthy delays, while the FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg lashed out at airlines for letting go of workers during the pandemic, despite billions in federal aid.
    Buttigieg on Saturday said one of his own flights was canceled.
    “The complexity of modern aviation requires everything to work in concert,” said Matt Colbert, who previously managed operations and strategies at several U.S. carriers and is the founder of consulting firm Empire Aviation Services.
    Delta took the unusual step of allowing travelers to change their flights outside of the peak July 1-4 period if they can fly though July 8, without paying a difference in fare, in hopes customers could avoid some of the disruptions on the busiest days. Envoy Air, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines, offered pilots triple pay to pick up extra shifts in July, CNBC reported last month.

    “Bring patience,” Colbert said. “The people working on the other side of the counter are frustrated, too.”

    European travel has become chaotic with passengers at some of the biggest hubs facing long lines and baggage delays as the industry faces staffing issues and a surge in demand.
    Scandinavian airline SAS on Monday said it would be forced to cancel half of its flights after pay talks with pilots’ union representatives broke down, setting off a strike. Meanwhile, the chief operating officer of low-cost airline easyJet resigned after recent waves of flight cancellations.

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More

  • in

    Americans hoping for European vacations this summer should prepare for one thing: Chaos

    It is a messy picture in many European hotspots as airlines and airports struggle to cope with pent-up travel demand after Covid lockdowns.
    Thousands of flights have been cancelled and recent travelers have queued for hours at passport control and luggage collection at airports across Europe — and the issues are expected to drag on.
    “The pace at which passengers have returned to the skies since the springtime has caught airlines a little bit by surprise, and airports too,” Alexander Irving, European transport analyst at AB Bernstein, told CNBC.

    Some airlines and airports are struggling with the post-covid demand for travel.
    Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

    LONDON — Delays, cancellations and strikes. It’s been a messy time for many European tourist hotspots as airlines and airports struggle to cope with pent-up travel demand after Covid-19 lockdowns.
    Thousands of flights have been cancelled and recent travelers have queued for hours at passport control and luggage collection at airports across Europe — and the issues are expected to drag on.

    “Air travel this summer is fraught with uncertainty, both for passengers and airlines,” Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told CNBC via email.
    “Long delays and cancellations are likely grating on consumers’ desire to travel while airlines toe a fine line between trying to grasp hold of the post-pandemic travel boom and preparing for the likely slowdown ahead as economic conditions deteriorate.”
    According to aviation data firm Cirium, 400 flights were canceled in all U.K. airports between June 24 and June 30, representing an increase of 158% from the same seven days in 2019.
    And that’s outside of the peak summer season — usually between July and early September in Europe.
    London’s busiest airport, Heathrow, asked airlines last week to cut flights, as passenger numbers were above what it could cope with. Some passengers were unaware their flight had been canceled, while others complained about the long queues.

    There will be disruption continuing into the summer.

    Stephen Furlong
    Stephen Furlong, senior industry analyst at Davy

    Meanwhile, low-cost airline easyJet has cut thousands of flights over the summer in an attempt to minimize the risk of disorder. Its chief operating officer, Peter Bellew, resigned Monday, with the airline saying it remained “absolutely focused on our daily operation and continues to monitor this very closely, having taken pre-emptive action to build further resilience for the summer due to the current operating environment.”
    Many have also faced travel issues in the U.S. as they looked to go away for the July 4 weekend, with more than 12,000 flights delayed and hundreds canceled.
    And it’s unlikely that travel chaos will unwind in the coming months, according to Stephen Furlong, senior industry analyst at wealth manager Davy.
    “There will be disruption continuing into the summer whether ATC [cargo] driven or ground handling or security staff or indeed self-inflicted labour issues from the airlines,” he added.
    In France in June, a quarter of flights were canceled at the main airport in Paris due to a workers’ strike.
    And more strike-induced disturbance could be on the way. British Airways is preparing for a staff strike in the coming weeks as workers demand that a 10% pay cut installed during the pandemic gets reversed. And Ryanair workers in Spain said over the weekend they would be striking for 12 days in July, pushing for better work conditions. In addition, in Sweden, Scandinavian Airlines said it would continue talks with pilots on Monday in an effort to avert a new strike.

    What’s causing the disruption?

    There are several reasons for the travel chaos and they are mostly industry-wide problems, rather than a country- or airline-specific issue.
    “The pace at which passengers have returned to the skies since the springtime has caught airlines a little bit by surprise and airports too. They simply don’t have the staff right now that we would need for a full schedule summer,” Alexander Irving, European transport analyst at AB Bernstein, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” last week.
    Many airlines, airport operators and other companies within the travel sector laid-off workers during the pandemic as their businesses ground to a halt. Many of these workers looked for opportunities elsewhere and have not returned to the sector, while others were pushed into early retirement.
    “Ultimately, we need more staff,” Irving said.
    In addition, it’s hard to attract new talent right now given changes in the labor market, such as the so-called Great Resignation — when workers chose to quit their jobs, often without another one lined up, in search for a better work-life balance.

    Hiring new people is also a medium to long-term solution, as in many travel-related jobs there’s compulsory training before workers can start their jobs.
    At the same time, many of those who stayed in the sector do not feel sufficiently compensated and have complained about their work conditions.
    It “probably ultimately means paying people more and treating them slightly better,” Irving said about the labor issues and strikes.
    At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, a group of cleaners, baggage handlers and security staff will be paid an additional 5.25 euros ($5.55) per hour this summer, according to Reuters. However, the same airport announced that it will be limiting its volume of passengers this summer, especially to reduce disruptions.
    Other countries are also scrambling to improve the situations are their airports. In Spain, police are hiring more staff at some of the country’s busiest airports and Portugal is also increasing its border control staff.
    “The response by most companies as the pandemic hit was to reduce capacity on the expectation for a sustained period of lower growth. However, the pandemic delivered a different outcome: one where the global economy was virtually switched off then switched back on within a short period of time,” Roger Jones, head of equities at London & Capital, told CNBC.

    He said that on top of the labor market shortages, inflation is also an issue.
    “Cost inflation, especially fuel and wages, is aggravating the situation and making it a really difficult operating environment, which is weighing on profitability,” he said via email.
    Many airlines, including British Airways and Air France-KLM, received financial support from governments during the pandemic to avoid collapse. However, a number of unions and airlines are now demanding more help from governments to support the revival of the sector.
    Despite the strikes, cancellations and other disruptions, some analysts are still positive about the sector and argue that the recent situation has been “overplayed.”
    “I do feel though it’s overplayed by the media and the vast majority of flights are operating and on time. Ryanair, for example, while operating 115% of pre-Covid capacity have planned for this and have largely avoided disruption so far,” Davy’s Furlong said via email.

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More

  • in

    British Army's Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked to promote cryptocurrency scams

    A hacker, or hackers, took over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the British Army on Sunday.
    The army’s Twitter profile was altered to show images of fake NFTs and promote crypto giveaway schemes.
    Its YouTube account, meanwhile, aired livestreams with clips of Elon Musk and directed users to crypto scam websites.

    A screenshot of the British Army’s Twitter profile when it was hacked, via Wayback Machine. Its profile and banner pictures were changed to resemble a nonfungible token collection called “The Possessed.”

    A hacker compromised the social media accounts of the British Army to push people toward cryptocurrency scams.
    The army’s Twitter and YouTube profiles were taken over by the hacker, or hackers — the identity of whom is not yet known — on Sunday. The Twitter account’s name was changed to “pssssd,” and its profile and banner pictures were changed to resemble a nonfungible token collection called “The Possessed.”

    The Possessed’s official Twitter account warned users of a “new verified SCAM account” impersonating the collection of NFTs — tokens representing ownership of pieces of online content.
    Earlier Sunday, the account was renamed “Bapesclan” — the name of another NFT collection — while its banner image was changed to a cartoon ape with clown makeup on. The hacker also began retweeting posts promoting NFT giveaway schemes.
    Bapesclan didn’t immediately respond to a CNBC direct message on Twitter.
    The name of the U.K. military’s YouTube account, meanwhile, was changed to “Ark Invest,” the investment firm of Tesla and bitcoin bull Cathie Wood.
    The hacker deleted all the account’s videos and replaced with them with livestreams of old clips taken from a conversation with Elon Musk and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey on bitcoin that was hosted by Ark in July 2021. Text was added to the livestreams directing users to crypto scam websites.

    Both accounts have since been returned to their rightful owner.
    “The breach of the Army’s Twitter and YouTube accounts that occurred earlier today has been resolved and an investigation is underway,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense tweeted Monday.
    “The Army takes information security extremely seriously and until their investigation is complete it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
    A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the British Army’s account “was compromised and has since been locked and secured.”
    “The account holders have now regained access and the account is back up and running,” the spokesperson told CNBC via email.

    A YouTube representative was not immediately available for comment when reached by CNBC.
    Tobias Ellwood, a British Conservative lawmaker who chairs the defense committee in Parliament, said the breach “looks serious.”
    “I hope the results of the investigation and actions taken will be shared appropriately.”
    It’s not the first time a high-profile social media account has been exploited by hackers to promote crypto scams. In 2020, the Twitter accounts of Musk, President Joe Biden and numerous others were taken over to swindle their followers of bitcoin.
    — CNBC’s Lora Kolodny contributed to this report

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More

  • in

    Thailand ends almost all travel restrictions — but one key rule remains

    Travelers wondering what it’s like to visit Thailand now may be interested to know the country is “allowing almost everything” again.
    That’s according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the governmental entity responsible for promoting tourism to the country.

    Masks are no longer required, and the country’s color-coded system — which placed limits that varied by province on dining activities, gatherings and travel — is also a thing of the past, according to TAT.
    It’s also far easier to get into Thailand now too.

    What’s needed

    Masks, which were once required at the beach, are no longer mandatory in Thailand.
    Lillian Suwanrumpha | Afp | Getty Images

    Unvaccinated travelers who show up in Thailand without a negative test result, taken within 72 hours of traveling, will be required to pay for and take a Covid-19 test on-site, according to TAT. Travelers who test positive must also pay for their medical expenses, according to a TAT representative.

    Foreign travelers still must show passports and visas, if needed, to enter.

    ‘Thailand Pass’ no longer required

    Travelers no longer need to apply for a “Thailand Pass” to enter. Introduced in May, it required travelers to submit proof of vaccination, medical insurance and other documents before departure.

    We expect the momentum to continue … [now that] the Thai government removed the final restrictions for international travelers.

    Michael Marshall
    CCO of Minor Hotels

    Fewer rules, more tourists

    It didn’t take long for tourists to react to Thailand’s loosened travel rules.  
    The day after the “Thailand Pass” was scrapped, tourist arrivals rose 20% to Phuket International Airport, with an estimated 9,000 people arriving on Friday, according to a report published by the Thai Public Broadcasting Service.
    That same day, the number of people crossing into Thailand at various checkpoints along the borders with Malaysia and Laos also rose, according to the article.   

    Indian nationals led the increase in travelers flying into Phuket last weekend, according to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service.
    Mladen Antonov | Afp | Getty Images

    The number of online searches for hotel bookings also climbed starting July 1, said Michael Marshall, chief commercial officer of the Thai-based hotel operator Minor Hotels.
    “Although it’s early days since all restrictions have been lifted, we’ve seen close to 10,000 new searches on our website for Thailand destinations from various markets collectively since July 1st, which is a very encouraging sign of things to come.”
    Even before the rule changes, Thailand’s tourism industry was picking up steam.   
    International arrivals nearly quadrupled from January to May this year, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports. More than 1.3 million foreigners arrived during this time, compared with fewer than 35,000 during the same period in 2021, according to the ministry’s statistics.

    From January to May in 2022, 43% of Thailand’s visitors hailed from Asia, followed by 38% from Europe, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism & Sports.
    Alex Ogle | Afp | Getty Images

    “We expect the momentum to continue … [now that] the Thai government removed the final restrictions for international travelers,” said Marshall.  
    Tourism arrivals increased the most this year to Phuket, Koh Samui and areas in northern Thailand, he said.  

    Road to recovery

    Thailand’s tourism recovery may be headed in the right direction, but the road to recovery is expected to be long as inflation, increasing travel costs and rising Covid rates rattle global travelers. The loss of travelers from its largest source market, China, won’t help matters this year either.
    Given these headwinds, Thai officials are predicting between five and 15 million international arrivals this year — a huge increase from last year’s 428,000 foreign arrivals, but a far cry from the nearly 40 million tourists who arrived in 2019, according to Reuters. More

  • in

    Here are the China trends investors bet money on during a sluggish few months

    Manufacturing companies in China snagged the most investment deals in the first half of the year among 37 sectors tracked by business database Qimingpian.
    During that time, roughly a quarter of early-stage to pre-IPO manufacturing deals were related to semiconductors, preliminary data showed.
    The interest in the industry came despite an overall drop in deals in China.

    A factory in Suqian, Jiangsu province, China, on May 9, 2022.
    Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

    BEIJING — By the numbers, manufacturing companies in China snagged the most investment deals in the first half of the year among 37 sectors tracked by business database Qimingpian.
    In fact, the number of early-stage to pre-IPO deals in manufacturing rose by about 70% year-on-year despite Covid controls and a plunge in Chinese stocks during the last six months.

    About 300, or roughly a quarter of those deals, were related to semiconductors, preliminary data showed. Several of the investors listed were government-related funds.
    Data on early-stage investments aren’t always complete due to the private nature of the deals. But available figures can reflect trends in China.
    Investor interest in chip companies comes as Beijing has cracked down on consumer-focused internet companies, while promoting the development of tech such as integrated circuit design tools and equipment for producing semiconductors.
    Manufacturing accounted for about 21% of investment deals in the first half of the year, according to Qimingpian. The second-most popular industry was business services, followed by health and medicine.

    Electric car and transportation-related start-ups ranked first by capital raised, at 193 billion yuan ($28.82 billion), based on available data. Monetary amounts were not disclosed for many deals.

    “In the last 12 months I think that there’s been a lot of hot capital chasing after a few deals that are in sectors that the government is promoting heavily,” said Gobi Partners managing partner Chibo Tang, without naming specific industries. He said the trend has resulted in dramatic increases in valuation, while fundamentals haven’t changed much.
    A two-month lockdown in Shanghai and Covid-related restrictions hit business sentiment and prevented people from traveling to discuss and close deals.
    In the first half of the year, the overall number of investment deals in China dropped by 29% from the same period a year ago, and declined by 25% from the second half of last year, according to CNBC calculations of Qimingpian data.
    “Given the market downturn in the recent months, there is a lot more capital on the sidelines,” Gobi Partners’ Tang said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
    His firm expects more early-stage investment opportunities will arise in the next 12 months, as valuations drop. Tang noted how many start-ups that raised capital 18 months ago had growth forecasts that now are being reset lower.
    “Founders are having a more difficult time raising money,” he said, “so the conversations we are having with them is how they should conserve capital, how they should extend their runway.”

    Read more about China from CNBC Pro

    Over the last 12 months, Beijing’s crackdown on tech and education companies following Didi’s IPO in New York has paused the ability of investment funds to cash out easily on their bets via an initial public offering.
    While the future of Chinese stock listings in the U.S. remains in limbo, many start-ups have opted for a market closer to home.
    But as of June 14, more than 920 companies were still in line to go public in mainland China and Hong Kong, according to an EY report. That was little changed from March.
    “Pipelines remain strong partly due to backlog from some delayed IPOs since Q1,” EY said in the report.
    Sentiment in mainland markets picked up as Covid controls eased in the last few weeks. Despite year-to-date declines of more than 6%, the Shanghai composite surged by nearly 6.7% in June for its best month since July 2020.

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More

  • in

    As interest rates climb and the economy cools, can companies pay their debts?

    Welcome to the American corporate-debt market of 2022. Often the only risky bonds that are being issued are the legacy debts of a now ancient-seeming time—when interest rates were low and a recession was unthinkable. Elsewhere, the high-yield market has almost ground to a halt. A paltry $83bn of risky debt has been issued so far in 2022, 75% less than in the same period last year. A sharp rise in interest rates in the first half of this year has cooled credit markets, wrong-footed investors and complicated bankers’ lives. In January Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and a handful of other banks agreed to finance a $15bn deal for two private-equity firms to buy Citrix, a software company. They promised to issue the riskiest $4bn of that debt at a maximum interest rate of 9%. At the time, the average yield on bonds with a credit rating of ccc, a speculative grade, was around 8%. The Citrix deal is expected to close some time in July. If bankers cannot sell the debt below the interest-rate cap they will be on the hook for the difference. But the yield on ccc-rated bonds has soared above 14%, making it difficult for the banks to sell the debt to investors below the cap. “If the market is anything like it is today, those banks are going to lose hundreds of millions—and potentially a billion—dollars on this deal alone,” says Roberta Goss of Pretium, a debt-investment manager. The stakes in aggregate are far higher. A steady decline in interest rates over the past 30 years encouraged companies to borrow record amounts. Now the cost of servicing and refinancing that debt mountain is climbing, profits are being dented by rising costs and inventories are piling up at some firms as demand slows. Does a corporate-debt meltdown loom?America’s last big debt crisis, in 2007-09, was in housing. The stock of household debt relative to gdp had climbed sharply as lenders had aggressively issued mortgages and property prices had soared. When interest rates rose, borrowers began to default. Some 3m households were eventually foreclosed on in 2008. This time it seems far less likely that households will be the borrowers struggling. Lending standards have been tightened and debt levels have fallen. Household debt to gdp peaked at 99% in 2008 but has since tumbled to just 75%. By contrast, corporate debt as a share of gdp, at around 80%, has been at or near record highs during the past two years (see chart). To understand where problems might arise, it is important to look across the many funding options available to firms and their owners. American companies owe around $12.5trn. Some $6.7trn of that is in bonds, mostly issued by large or mid-size public companies. An additional $1.3trn is loans from banks, and another $1.1trn is mortgage debt. The rest—over $3trn—is financing from non-banks, comprising mostly of either private credit, typically loans made for private-equity buy-outs, or “syndicated” loans, which originate in banks but are split into pieces and sold to investors, or sometimes bundled into other debt securities. The bond market, as the biggest source of debt, might seem like the natural place to go looking for trouble. But firms that issued bonds are “relative winners” of the rise in interest rates, says Eric Beinstein of JPMorgan Chase, because most bonds pay fixed coupons. Of the $5trn-worth of corporate bonds issued since the start of 2020 some 87% pay fixed coupons. And those coupon rates are at all-time lows. The average coupon on an investment-grade bond is just 3.6%—half the rate in the early 2000s and still below the level in 2019. That will insulate borrowers as rates rise. These fixed-rate bonds are not due to mature soon, either. The riskier high-yield end of the bond market—the roughly $1.5trn owed by sub-investment-grade issuers, which tend to be smaller or heavily indebted companies—saw a wave of refinancing in 2020 and 2021. The result is that only a tiny $73bn-worth of high-yield bonds are due to mature in 2022 and 2023. The peak of risky-bond maturation will not come until 2029.The impact of rising rates is likely to be much greater in the syndicated-loan and private-debt markets, which typically issue floating-rate debt (although some of that rate risk may have been hedged). They have also seen explosive growth. Between 2015 and 2021 the value of outstanding high-yield bonds grew a little, from around $1.3trn to $1.5trn. By contrast, syndicated loans grew from $900bn in 2015 to $1.4trn over the same period. Private credit was the runt in 2015, with just $500bn in assets under management. Now, with $1.1trn in assets, it rivals its other risky debt peers.John Kline of New Mountain, a private-credit firm, argues that the growing market share of private credit is a reflection of the fact that it offers issuers price certainty and is “much easier to deal with” than slicing up a bank loan through a syndication process, or issuing a bond. He points out that the barbarian days of private-equity shops leveraging firms with 85% debt to total value are long gone. The average debt-to-value ratio for private-equity deals last year was closer to 50%.Still, that ratio is less reassuring once you consider how far private-equity valuations might have fallen this year (the formal figures are revised infrequently, unlike public-market valuations). And with great growth seems to have come fresh risk. Compared with the profits of the firms they acquired, debt levels look much higher: equal to an average of six times gross operating profit, a little higher than the record set in 2019 or in any of the past 20 years. “Whenever a market grows quickly, there can be a sort of reckoning if the environment changes,” says Mr Beinstein. The challenge, he says, is getting hold of any details or data on private deals. In the bright lights of public markets it is easy enough to find evidence suggesting that companies are not facing an imminent crisis. The problem is that a chunk of the debt lurks in the shadows. ■ More

  • in

    'Minions: The Rise of Gru' tops $108 million as parents flock back to cinemas, kids in tow

    Universal and Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” generated more than $108 million in ticket sales during its domestic opening weekend.
    The animated feature represented 54% of all domestic moviegoers over the weekend, with 68% of ticket holders being part of family groups, according to data from EntTelligence.
    The film is expected to add another $20 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada on Monday, bringing its holiday weekend total to $128 million.

    “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is the sequel to the 2015 film, “Minions,” and spin-off/prequel to the main “Despicable Me” film series.

    Families have gone bananas for “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”
    Over the weekend, the Universal and Illumination animated feature tallied more than $108 million in ticket sales.

    The fifth film in the Despicable Me franchise generated an additional $93.7 million from international markets, bringing its estimated opening weekend haul to $202 million globally.
    “With the incredible success of ‘Minions,’ the notion that family audiences were avoiding movie theaters due to Covid concerns can be shelved,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
    Box office analysts had wondered if this segment of moviegoers was still avoiding cinemas after Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear” took in just $51 million during its domestic debut last month, below expectations of $70 million and $85 million.
    It was unclear if tough box office competition led to “Lightyear’s” less than stellar debut or if consumers were confused about the film’s release. After all, there has not been a theatrical release of a Pixar film since 2020′s “Onward.” The last three from the animation studio, “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red,” were all released on streaming service Disney+.
    “Minions: The Rise of Gru” represented 54% of all domestic moviegoers over the weekend, with 68% of ticket holders being part of family groups, according to data from EntTelligence.

    “What this weekend has showcased is a triumphant return to cinemas by families, laying to rest any lingering and outdated pandemic narrative that parents and kids only want to watch movies at home,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “When the right content is out there, people will show up.”
    The film is expected to add another $20 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada on Monday, bringing its holiday weekend total to $128 million.
    Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Minions: The Rise of Gru.”

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More

  • in

    American Airlines scheduling glitch allows pilots to drop thousands of July flights

    The pilots’ union said that aviators were able to drop assignments that included 12,000 flights.
    American said the majority of dropped trips were restored and that it doesn’t expect an impact to its operation, including during the July Fourth weekend.
    A similar issue occurred in 2017 before Christmas.

    An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner approaches for a landing at the Miami International Airport on December 10, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
    Joe Raedle | Getty Images

    A glitch in a scheduling platform allowed American Airlines pilots to drop thousands of trips in July last night, their union said Saturday, a headache for the airline as it tries to minimize flight disruptions during a booming travel season.
    American confirmed the issue and said it didn’t expect the problem to affect its operation, including during the July Fourth holiday weekend.

    “As a result of this technical glitch, certain trip trading transactions were able to be processed when it shouldn’t have been permitted,” the airline said in a statement. “We already have restored the vast majority of the affected trips and do not anticipate any operational impact because of this issue.”
    More than 12,000 July flights lacked either a captain, first officer or both, after pilots dropped assignments, the Allied Pilots Association said earlier.
    Pilots can routinely drop or pick up trips, but time off in the summer or holidays is hard to come by for airline employees as schedules peak to cater to strong demand.
    On Saturday alone, American had more than 3,000 mainline flights scheduled and they were 93% full, according to an internal tally. Flights left unstaffed, however, are an additional strain on any airline.
    The glitch occurred during a rocky start to the Fourth of July weekend when thunderstorms and staffing issues caused thousands of U.S. flight delays and hundreds of cancellations.

    American and its pilots’ union, whose relationship has been fraught, are in the middle of contract negotiations and the airline most recently offered nearly 17% raises through 2024. The union’s new president, Capt. Ed Sicher, began a three-year term on Friday.
    American’s pilots have picketed recently against grueling schedules, something they want to be addressed in a new contract. Pilots at Delta and Southwest have picketed in recent weeks for similar reasons.
    American said it has suspended a platform that allows pilots to change their schedules while it investigates the issue.
    “We understand these are important tools for our pilots and are working as quickly as possible. We will provide updates throughout the day as we learn more,” American told pilots in an email Saturday.
    Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said the company failed to keep the IT system working properly and creating “uncertainty for passengers and pilots.”
    A similar issue occurred in 2017, when a technology problem let American’s pilots take vacation during the busy December holiday period. The carrier offered pilots 150% pay for pilots that picked up assignments.

    WATCH LIVEWATCH IN THE APP More