Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 21, 2022

Biden considers a gas-tax holiday, airlines cancel 5,000 flights in busiest weekend since Thanksgiving, and more

1

Biden to decide this week on possible gas-tax holiday

President Biden said Monday he is considering ordering a federal gasoline-tax holiday to help motorists struggling with high fuel prices, and would decide by the end of the week. The move could save drivers as much as 18.4 cents per gallon. A tax holiday is one of several measures the Biden administration is looking at to ease pain at the pump. Gas prices now average nearly $5 per gallon nationwide, according to auto club AAA. Fuel prices were already rising last year and spiked this spring as Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted global supply. Biden also said aides were meeting with energy company CEOs to discuss the price increases.

2

Airlines cancel 5,000 flights in busiest weekend since Thanksgiving

Airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights over the Juneteenth and Father's Day weekend, disrupting travel for tens of thousands of passengers. Nearly 30,000 other flights had been delayed since Thursday. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was among the passengers affected. His flight from Washington to New York City was canceled on Friday, and he wound up driving instead. The Transportation Security Administration said more than 2.4 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday, making it the busiest travel day since Thanksgiving weekend. High demand, weather, and unexpected absences contributed to the mess.

3

U.K. rail strike disrupts travel 

Tens of thousands of British rail workers walked off the job Tuesday in Britain's biggest rail strike in 30 years, leaving just 20 percent of passenger trains running. The strike stranded travelers in England, Scotland, and Wales. About 40,000 cleaners, signalers, maintenance workers, and station staff launched a 24-hour strike demanding better pay, working conditions, and job security. London Underground subway services were also limited by a walkout. The rail workers plan two more day-long strikes on Thursday and Saturday. Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT rail union, blamed government ministers for preventing employers from negotiating freely. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said "outdated unions" were blocking progress.

4

Stock futures rebound after last week's losses

U.S. stock futures surged early Tuesday, rebounding after last week's losses at the start of a holiday-shortened week. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up 1.8 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 1.6 percent. The three main U.S. indexes fell sharply last week on concerns that Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes to fight inflation could tip the economy into a recession. The Dow dropped 4.8 percent, falling below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021. The S&P 500 fell 5.8 percent, leaving it 23 percent below its January record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.8 percent and is 33 percent below its record high.

5

JetBlue sweetens offer for Spirit

JetBlue Airways on Monday increased its offer for Spirit Airlines to $33.50 per share, up from $31.50. JetBlue also strengthened its commitment to sell some assets to help win regulatory approval. Spirit is considering whether to go through with a planned acquisition by fellow budget carrier Frontier Group or sell to JetBlue. Spirit postponed a shareholder vote on Frontier's offer that had been scheduled this month so it could continue talks with both potential buyers. Either deal would create the No. 5 U.S. airline. JetBlue's latest offer is worth $3.64 billion. Frontier's cash and stock offer was initially valued at $2.9 billion but has declined as Frontier's shares fell.

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