GOING DOWN, GOING BUST, GOING OUT

AIRLINES STILL IN A TAILSPIN. American Airlines reported a 2020 loss of almost $8.89 billion, JetBlue almost $1.4 billion, and Southwest Air $1.3 billion, its first annual loss in 48 years.

The losses have continued into 2021’s first quarter. 

Air carriers expect their fortunes to improve only when vaccines have been taken up by enough people to persuade travelers that time on a plane is safe.

The losses, reported on 28 January, were announced a day after aircraft maker Boeing unveiled an $11.9-billion loss in 2020, its worst year on record.

COMMERZBANK TO FIRE 10,000 WORKERS. The new CEO of Germany’s second-largest bank will lay off 10,000 of the bank’s 40,000 workers and reduce the number of branches from about 800 to 450, according to the bank’s announcement reported by Reuters on 28 January.

“Commerzbank needs to undergo a fundamental transformation,” Manfred Knof, the new CEO who came to the bank on 1 January, wrote in a memo obtained by Reuters.

A strategic restructuring at the partly government-owned bank was under discussion last year, then was halted by the resignation of key bank executives after a shareholder revolt.

“We will thoroughly reduce complexity and cut costs,” Knof vowed in a statement announcing the measures.

TOYS ‘R’ US SHUTS LAST TWO STORES. Once a retail phenomenon, the iconic toy store chain permanently closed its last two U.S. stores, blaming the loss of traffic during the pandemic and economic shutdown.

The brand was bought by the holding company Tru Kids when Toys ‘R’ Us liquidated in 2018. Tru Kids opened two small stores in late 2019, just weeks before states’ economies began shutting down.

The company still markets the brand online, with purchases made and fulfilled through Amazon.

Toy sales in 2020 reached $25.1 billion, outpacing 2019 figures by 16 percent. However, those shoppers increasingly bought online.

SANDS REVENUE FALLS BY TWO-THIRDS. Las Vegas Sands Corp., part of the estate of the late billionaire Sheldon Adelson, saw fourth-quarter revenue plunge by two-thirds year on year, from $315 billion in 2020 to $115 billion in 2021.

The plunge turned the company from a $629-million profit a year earlier to a loss of $299 million and 37 cents a share for the period.

Las Vegas hotels and casinos have been pummeled by the loss of travelers, especially foreign tourists, during the pandemic and economic shutdown.

Casinos have been restructuring operations and slashing costs during the last ten months. The company owning the Palazzo and Venetian casinos has cut costs by 47 percent in 2020, it says.

HUDSON’S BAY FIRES HUNDREDS OF CANADIAN WORKERS. The iconic trading company, founded in 1670, is laying off more than 600 workers across Canada “due to circumstances beyond our control” as more than half of its department stores remain closed under government health mandates.

The layoffs represent only about 5 percent of the company’s Canadian workforce, the Canadian Press news service reported.

More than 40 of the affected employees have contacted an employment law firm, complaining that they have received inadequate severance settlements, which, they argue, could constitute an unlawful dismissal.

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