AER LINGUS SPENDS €5m ON EXTRA CRAFT AND CREW FOR PEAK SEASON - Aer Lingus is spending up to €5 million on hiring in extra aircraft and crew after underestimating its requirements for the peak travel season, writes the Irish Times. The airline has hired in at least one craft and crew from UK charter specialist Titan Airways to cover some of its services from Dublin Airportfor a period said to be 50 days. Estimates of the extra cost involved run to €5 million, although it is understood the company has told staff the figure is closer to €2.5 million, which implies that the UK company is charging €50,000 a day. Industry regulations mean an airline has to hire in craft complete with their own pilots and crew - rather than individuals - when they need extra staff. Titan Airways regularly provides this service for a number of European airlines, including Aer Lingus. Sources yesterday suggested the company had underestimated its crewing requirements for the summer period, traditionally the busiest time of the year in the travel industry. A spokeswoman confirmed the airline has hired in craft and crew, but would not say which company is providing the service or how much Aer Lingus is paying for it.
AIB LOST €4m ON THE SALE OF JUST 17 homes - AIB lost €2 for every €1 it raised from the sale of a repossessed home last year, the Irish Independent has learned. The bank repossessed 60 residential properties last year, selling on 17 of them - but it lost €4m in the sales. Detailed accounts filed by its mortgage unit include never-before-seen details about the state of the bank's mortgage lending up to the beginning of this year. It includes the fact that AIB raised €2m by selling 17 repossessed properties last year, which amounted to just a third of the debt owed on the homes. As a result the bank was left nursing losses of €4m on the sales. The worst losses were on the so called buy-to-lets. The bank took a €3m hit when it sold nine properties secured by buy-to-let mortgages for a combined total that amounted to just a quarter of the €4m owed on the properties. It fared better from the sale of "owner-occupied" homes. Sales of eight repossessed family homes raised €1m, exactly half the debt owed. Losses from the sale of repossessed homes had been slightly lower in 2011. Of the 60 homes repossessed by AIB last year, 37 were secured by so called "buy-to-let" mortgages and the rest were "owner-occupied" family homes.
BUMPER GRAIN CROP TO WEIGHT ON PRICES - The US drought of 2012, the worst since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, is finally releasing its grip on world agricultural markets, reports the Financial Times. Propitious growing conditions from Brazil to Ukraine and the US have raised hopes of a sharp rebound in world cereals stocks, easing inflation pressures and pushing food security down the policy agenda. World corn, rice, soyabean and wheat production will break records this year, the US Department of Agriculture estimated this week. The International Grains Council in London expects grain inventories in critical exporters such as Argentina, Australia, Europe, Russia and the US to rise 40%. The supply expectations have knocked the Dow Jones-UBS grains index down by a third in the past year. Restocked granaries will damp extreme price swings. “We are in for an exceptionally good year, perhaps one of the best in the last four or five years in terms of crop production,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Corn prices rocketed past $8 a bushel a year ago as drought decimated the US crop. The shortfall drove up grain prices worldwide as farmers scrambled for substitute livestock rations. The US government this year predicts a record domestic corn crop of almost 350m tonnes, up 28% from 2012, and the third biggest soyabean crop, of 88.6m tonnes. Corn was $4.55¼ per bushel in Chicago on Tuesday, down 3.6%.
GSK WINS US APPROVAL FOR BIG-TICKET HIV DRUG - British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline has won US regulatory approval for an HIV drug which analysts expect to reap £582m in revenues by 2017, says the Telegraph. The drug, known as Tivicay, is the fourth of GSK’s six “sizeable drugs” to get the green light from the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The six products, which also include two respiratory drugs, two cancer-fighting medicines and a treatment for diabetes, are expected to significantly boost Glaxo’s sales in the near-term. FDA approval for another big ticket drug will be a welcome piece of good news for Britain’s biggest drug maker, which is currently embroiled in an investigation by Chinese authorities into alleged bribery. It is also the first drug developed by ViiV Healthcare, GSK’s joint venture with US drug maker Pfizer and Japan’s Shionogi, to gain regulatory approval. GSK co-founded ViiV Healthcare along with Pfizer in 2009 to pool research into HIV medications.