The daily business briefing: August 29, 2023

Transportation Department fines American Airlines $4.1 million over tarmac delays, glitch forces Toyota to halt production at its 14 Japan plants, and more

Toyota manufacturing plant in Japan
(Image credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

1. American Airlines fined $4.1 million over delays

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday it was fining American Airlines $4.1 million over dozens of cases where passengers were forced to stay on planes during long ground delays. The department said investigators found that American kept a total of 5,821 passengers on 43 domestic flights that were stuck on the ground for at least three hours from 2018 to 2021. "This is the latest action in our continued drive to enforce the rights of airline passengers," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. American has to pay half the fine within 30 days, but the other half is being waived after the department credited the airline for compensation it paid the inconvenienced passengers.


2. Toyota halts production at 14 Japan assembly plants

Toyota said Tuesday it had to suspend operations at its 14 assembly plants in Japan after its production system malfunctioned. The world's top-selling automaker said the breakdown was "likely not due to a cyberattack" but the cause was still under investigation. The plants in Toyota's home country account for about a third of its global production. Domestic output averaged about 13,500 vehicles per day in the first half of 2023, according to Reuters. Toyota had to halt operations for a day last year due to a cyberattack against one of its suppliers, forcing the company to use a backup network so it could resume production.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up


3. 3M board approves $6 billion settlement over combat earplugs

3M's board of directors on Monday approved a $6 billion settlement to resolve complaints by nearly 300,000 veterans who said the company's military earplugs failed to protect them from hearing loss caused by loud noises, such as explosions. The settlement was significantly lower than the $10 billion to $15 billion some analysts had predicted. 3M shares rose after news of a tentative deal surfaced over the weekend, and closed 5.2% higher on Monday. 3M has argued that its combat earplugs work when used with proper training, but the case became the biggest single mass tort in U.S. history, with more claims than were filed over asbestos exposure, opioid sales, or wildfires, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal

4. Stock futures flat after Monday's gains

U.S. stock indexes were little changed early Tuesday after Monday's gains. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were flat at 7 a.m. ET. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Monday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.8%. The Dow got a boost from 3M, which rose 5% after reaching a settlement in a wave of complaints over its military earplugs. The gains came as a rough August nears an end. "It's a lot of digestion right now as we pulled back a little bit off the year-to-date highs," Chris Barto, an investment analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, told CNBC. Traders are "getting back to their desks from summer and looking at their portfolios and reallocating."


5. Chinese official promises 'positive efforts' to ease trade tensions

Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Beijing's top official for economic relations with the United States, told Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Tuesday he would "make new positive efforts" to follow through on a Monday agreement to reduce trade tensions. The vice premier said the steps would include launching groups to discuss commercial disputes, including export controls. The agreement, which came at the start of Raimondo's four-day China visit, was the biggest concrete result yet from a series of trips U.S. officials have made to China over the last three months seeking to ease trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. Raimondo said President Biden "asked me to reiterate to you our desire to have more open engagement."

The Associated Press

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.