Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 21, 2021

American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights, Amazon sellers brace for Prime Day supply crunch, and more

1

American Airlines cuts flights to ease strains

American Airlines said Sunday it was canceling 950 flights, or about 1 percent of its schedule, in the first half of July to ease strains on its operations as travel demand bounces back faster than expected from the coronavirus-induced decline. American said the change would help avoid disruptions during the heavy summer travel season and "minimize surprises at the airport." The news came as staffing shortages and maintenance issues forced the company to cancel about 200 flights over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The airline said it aimed to pick the flights it was canceling to inconvenience the smallest number of customers possible. Companies that provide catering, fueling, and other services for airlines face staff shortages as they try to get up to full speed.

2

Amazon sellers contend with supply challenges on Prime Day

Amazon sellers are bracing for supply chain issues to complicate Amazon's Prime Day, the online retail giant's two-day sales event that kicks off on Monday. Many businesses are struggling to keep goods in stock as demand returns after the coronavirus pandemic forced factories to shut down around the world. Supply chains have faced further disruptions due to shipping bottlenecks and other issues, including a new outbreak in China's Guangdong province that prompted restrictions at one of the world's busiest ports. The shipping problems are affecting small- and medium-sized Amazon sellers who rely on imports from China. "In 42 years in this business, I've seen a lot of challenges, but I've not seen anything like this," said Isaac Larian, CEO of Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment.

3

Royal Caribbean ship starts trial cruise

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas departed from Miami on Sunday on a trial cruise, an important step toward restarting an industry shut down for 15 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Freedom of the Seas can carry 4,500 guests, but it signed up just 650 volunteers on the two-day trial run. A trial cruise to show ships can sail safely without COVID-19 outbreaks is one of two paths toward resuming operations offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The other is requiring that 95 percent of passengers and crew be fully vaccinated. The rules face a court challenge filed in April by the state of Florida, which said the cruise industry was being unfairly subjected to tighter restrictions than other businesses.

4

Stock futures rise after Dow's worst week since October

U.S. stock futures rose early Monday following the Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst week since October. Futures for the Dow, the S&P 500, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were up by about 0.4 percent several hours before the opening bell. All three of the main U.S. indexes dropped sharply on Friday to close out a losing week after the Federal Reserve released updated economic projections raising inflation concerns, and said it could raise interest rates in 2023, sooner than previously expected. The Dow fell by 3.5 percent last week. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq lost 1.9 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. "We will see this type of volatility come up again and again; the inflation discussion is not going away," said Paul Sandhu, head of multiasset quant solutions for Asia-Pacific at BNP Paribas Asset Management. 

5

Thousands sign petitions to keep Bezos in space

Tens of thousands of people had signed petitions as of Sunday calling for barring Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from returning to Earth after his planned flight into space on July 20. Bezos announced earlier this month that he and his brother, Mark Bezos, would be on board when the New Shepard suborbital rocket system built by his space exploration company, Blue Origin, makes its first flight carrying people. There are several petitions targeting Bezos. The leading one, "Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth," had 33,000 signatures as of late Sunday. "Billionaires should not exist," the petition says. "On Earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there." Bezos said in an Instagram post that seeing Earth from space "changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity."

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