LOW-COST AIRLINE EYES DUBLIN-BANGKOK FLIGHTS - Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle is considering launching a Dublin to Bangkok service next year in a move that could make it the first airline to connect the Republic directly with the major tourist hub, says the Irish Times. A spokesman for the company, whose long-haul operations are licensed and managed by a subsidiary based in the Republic, confirmed yesterday the airline is considering launching the Dublin-Bangkok service. He pointed out there is no regular, direct link between the Republic's capital and the Thai city, but said there does appear to be demand. He added that should the airline decide to go ahead, it is likely it would launch it next year. Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar recently said the Government is keen to see airlines developing services to eastern Asia. Norwegian began offering low-cost, long-haul services last year, pricing transatlantic flights at $300-$350 return.
PROPERTY GIANT KENNEDY WILSON WARNS IRISH MARKET 'MOVING AHEAD OF ITSELF' - One of the biggest buyers of commercial property here since the crash has signalled it is starting to move on from the Irish market, switching focus to southern Europe. Kennedy Wilson Europe managing director Fiona D'Silva said pricing was "moving ahead of itself" in Ireland and added that while the firm still planned to do deals here, it has now begun to focus on Spain and Italy's real estate markets. "We think it has been great in Ireland and see things still coming off banks' [balance sheets] but pricing is moving ahead of itself a little bit so we are a little bit more cautious and looking more at opportunities outside Ireland and the UK to Italy and Spain," she said. She was speaking at the Private Equity Real Estate (PERE) conference in London. Her firm, Kennedy Wilson, has spent close to a €1 billion on property in Ireland in the last three years, investing in offices, apartment blocks and development sites across the country - but especially in Dublin. The company had been expected to set up a real estate investment trust (REIT) in Ireland to run its portfolio here but instead decided to list its European business in London earlier this year. That makes it easier to invest in markets outside Ireland.
ARKONI EXPANDS INTO IRISH MARKET - British specialist building services firm Arkoni has expanded into the Irish market via the signing of a joint-venture product partnership with Dublin-based firm Linham Construction, says the Irish Examiner. The move is the Yorkshire-based firm's first foray outside of the UK, although it has completed project work on behalf of Ireland-based clients in the past. The company - which has annual sales of around £5m (€6.2m) - provides various bespoke architectural and metalwork products for commercial, residential and public sector construction projects. It specialises in a range of fire-rated and steel glazing systems, installing high-grade fire resistant glazing for buildings, capable of withstanding heat of 1,000 degrees. Arkoni has worked on many of Britain's most famous buildings including the Tate Gallery, the O2 Arena in London and Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. The company's target in Ireland will be, mainly, on the recovering commercial construction sector. The most recent Ulster Bank PMI - the lead barometer for the health of the Irish construction sector - showed May as being the ninth consecutive month of sectoral growth, with the commercial area leading the recovery.
UK PHONE-HACKING TRIAL COSTS ESTIMATED TO BE AT LEAST £60m - The trial and police investigation of phone hacking at the News of the World is estimated to have cost at least £60m, making it one of the most expensive in British legal history, writes the Financial Times. The jury was discharged on Wednesday after failing to reach verdicts on two outstanding charges, while David Cameron was rebuked by the trial judge and criticised in parliament for commenting during an ongoing case. Police figures show that £18.7m has been spent on phone hacking investigations since 2011, most of it relating to the trial. A further £9.9m has been spent on the Operation Elveden investigation of payments to public officials, although much of this relates to journalists not involved in this trial. The cost of all the police investigations into wrongdoing by journalists and public officials totals £32.7m. The Crown Prosecution Services’ legal bill for the eight month trial topped £1.74m including £1.157m for five barristers, including top prosecutor Andrew Edis QC - who is reputed to be paid £570 a day. On top of this was the daily cost of an Old Bailey courtroom - estimated at £7,000 a day by Lord Justice Moses in a 2010 speech - adding up to about £1m including pre-trial hearings. The costs of the jury could be as much as £107,000 including their allowances. Mr Justice Saunders, who has spent almost a year on the case, is paid an annual salary of £174,481.