Thursday 5 December 2019

The Punt: All hail the new Uber helicopter

Stuck in traffic? You may soon be able to hail an Uber helicopter.

The fast-growing car-hailing service is experimenting with helicopter rides in the US.

However, while an Uber taxi trip can cost €10 or less, the helicopter rides are expected to be priced at several hundred euro upwards.

The helicopter service trial is being expanded this week at Utah's Sundance Film Festival, having been operated at the CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas this month.

A car service will be included in the service, to take passengers to and from helicopter points.

Helicopters for the service, which is expected to be named UberChopper, are being supplemented by Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer

"It's a pilot project, we'll see where it goes," said Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders. "But it's pretty exciting."

Uber is currently valued at €60bn as it has become the world's biggest car-hailing service.

Banks' third time unlucky

A Question for all small business owners: you are in talks with a potential new supplier. After doing a bit of research on the company, you discover that its boss has twice headed companies that have gone out of business in recent years, and left millions of euro in debt behind.

Do you steer well away from the company, or do you start doing business immediately?

Well, it seems some of the biggest banks in the world would be happy to do business with the new firm. According to Bloomberg, five banks including the behemoths Nomura and BNP Paribas are owed £120m after trading firm Invexstar Capital Management went under. This in istelf isn't big news. Firms go to the wall fairly regularly, and the money involved - large to you and me - is buttons to the big banks.

Look closely though and it turns out Invexstar's sole employee - Alberto Statti - helped run a firm that went bust owing £13m in 2013, and another that collapsed in 2008 owing £54m.

With a record like that it's clear that Statti had form when it comes to struggling financial firms. This should have been obvious to the banks and their compliance teams.

One wonders who else the banks are doing business with? Perhaps they need to hire a few SME bosses.

Willie or won't he step down?

Willie Walsh was in town yesterday for one of the two major aviation conferences on in the capital this week.

He told a packed house at Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel about plans for IAG's fleet (it owns, of course, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling), and also imparted other nuggets of information on IAG's plans.

But afterwards, he was asked if he still plans to retire when he turns 55 in October or if there are more deals he'd like to pursue. He's indicated in the past that it's a date he had in mind for possibly stepping back.

"There are lots more deals for IAG to do, whether I do them or somebody else," he said, adding that there's a strong pipeline of senior management in place at the airline group.

"It doesn't matter when I go or if I go, there'll be somebody there to replace me. The deals are not deals driven by me. They're deals driven by a very strong team within IAG."

The Punt imagines that he's enjoying himself too much to even contemplate stepping down come October.

Irish Independent

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