CI News Round-up
BA steps up anti-APD lobbying
As autumn weather starts to kick in and many British tourists prepare for post-Olympic and post-Paralympic breaks in the sun, British Airways has stepped up its part in the lobby against the Airport Passenger Departure (APD) Tax.
In a statement issued on 29 August online and directly to customers, BA asked people to write to British MPs who are due to return to Parliament soon after their summer break.
The airline outlines that the cost for families taking their annual holiday has “sky-rocketed”.
Its example indicates that a family of four flying to the Caribbean would pay $127 (£80) in APD in their World Traveller class and $1,000 (£648) APD in World Traveller Plus, Club World and First class.
“This level of increase has no justification and no international parallel,” the statement said.
“Yet the UK government has firm plans to keep on raising APD every year to 2017.”
The statement is in line with a strategy prepared by airlines and tourism industry officials to step up the lobby against the APD increase and its impact, particularly on Caribbean tourism fares.
BA’s contribution to the lobby started last year, with a statement on the impact the six-year-old tax was already having on travel to the Caribbean.
A national hero’s welcome took place for Grenada’s first-ever gold medalist, Kirani James, on 30 August.
Thousands turned out to wave the flag and roll out the red carpet for his Thursday evening homecoming at Maurice Bishop International Airport.
Prime Minister Tilman Thomas described it as a "very proud moment for all of us."
With Kirani's 20th birthday on 1 September, further celebrations were being planned for the 400m Olympic champion.
They include a national motorcade and a rally at the country’s National Stadium.
After his Olympics victory in London, followed by a 44.46 sec time posted in Austria and a 44.37 sec time in Switzerland, Kirani decided to end his 2012 season and return to study at the University of Alabama.
"He just feels he has accomplished his goals – winning gold medal and securing the number one ranking," his manager Renaldo Nehemiah told Track Alerts.
"We never make decisions based on money. It's always what Kirani wants. My job is to ensure the peace in his now chaotic world."
Kirani told the athletics paper that he’d had a successful season and had achieved the ultimate prize of winning Olympic gold.
Belize: the Greece of the Caribbean?
French newspaper Liberation has compared Belize to Greece’s situation in Europe.
The paper said that Central America’s only anglophone country, with a dependence on tourism, petroleum and fruit exports, was now in partial default after missing a coupon payment, earning it the title of the “Greece of the Caribbean”.
Belize failed to make a $23m interest payment deadline in August and now has until 19 September to pay this. It has said it’s not likely to do so.
The country has asked for a Greek-style restructuring of its $550m bond, which represents half of its public debt.
Following this restructuring request, bondholders said they would need more information before considering and discussing the Belize proposal.
Bloomberg news reported the Belize proposal as paying bondholders back 20 cents on each dollar owed, in what it headlined as a “worse-than-Argentina debt offer”.
Bloomberg based its figures on ratings agency Standard & Poor’s assessment that investors were currently likely to recover 30% to 50% of their bonds’ face value.