American Airlines: Fewer flights, higher fares
Joining its bigger U.S. peers, American Airlines is cutting back the number of flights it offers this fall and winter to cope with a weak economy, more pilot retirements, and higher fuel costs. For the last three months of the year, the carrier is trimming the number of available seats by 3 percent from 2010. American has seen a tenfold jump in pilot retirements in the past two months as workers sought to protect the value of their retirement funds, which are partly indexed to the stock market. On Oct. 3, shares of the airline’s parent, AMR, fell as much as 41 percent, the most since 2003, due to growing concerns that the carrier would be forced to declare bankruptcy.
JPMorgan Chase: Courting the creditworthy
Four of the biggest U.S. banks are wooing top customers with cheap cash even as they add fees for other services. Banks are mailing out offers that allow their most creditworthy customers to transfer balances onto credit cards with rates as low as 0 percent. JPMorgan Chase is offering select credit-card holders $5,000 at 0 percent for up to 15 billing cycles, while Bank of America is dangling a teaser rate of 0 percent through June 2012. Wells Fargo and Citibank are offering similar deals.
Zynga: Seeking freedom from Facebook
Zynga, the online game developer that’s planning an initial public offering, announced a service meant to reduce its dependence on Facebook. The site, called Project Z, will have its own social-networking capabilities as the developer aims to connect directly to consumers on the Internet and on mobile devices. The lion’s share of Zynga’s $1.25 billion in sales last year came from its games on Facebook, such as Farmville, and its number of active users has been nearly flat for more than a year.
UnitedHealth: Lobbying over health exchanges
Seeking to avoid a bidding war, UnitedHealth Group and other companies are lobbying state governments to allow all insurers access to the new marketplaces being set up under the Obama Administration’s overhaul of the health-care system. Four of the 11 states that have created the exchanges so far require companies to bid for a chance to take part, based on cost, benefits, and other criteria. Consumer advocates, including the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, say that competition is key to reducing costs.
Chrysler: Hammering out a labor deal
Chrysler Group reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers that adds 2,100 jobs and calls for $4.5 billion in investments in U.S. operations. The deal mirrors the union’s new contracts with General Motors and Ford Motor, which forgo bonuses as well as raises for senior workers in exchange for profit sharing and pay increases for new hires. GM’s workers ratified the contract by nearly a two-thirds majority, while just over half of Ford’s production workers had voted to approve their pact as of Oct. 11.