Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Hawaiian passenger traffic drops in October

Hawaiian Airlines passenger traffic dropped 15.8 percent in October compared to a year earlier. The airline's monthly report said it carried 427,419 people last month, down from 507,716 in October 2000.

Because of trimming service 20 percent or more after the Sept. 11 attacks, the airline's passenger space was also down year-over-year. Available seat miles in October were 491.5 million, down 20.6 percent from 619.1 million seat miles in October 2000. (A seat mile is one seat available for one mile).

Because of the cut in flight frequency and seat capacity, the airline increased its load factor -- the number of available seats divided by the number of paying passengers -- to 79.7 percent in October, up 4.5 points from 75.2 percent in October 2000. The company reports its figures systemwide, not separating its interisland business from its mainland-Hawaii and Hawaii-South Pacific routes.

United mechanics threaten strike

CHICAGO >> The nearly 2-year-old contract standoff between United Airlines and its mechanics union moved closer to a possible strike yesterday when the mechanics rejected the government's offer of binding arbitration.

Federal mediators, while announcing that a 30-day countdown to a strike will begin later this week, took steps to assure there will be no work stoppage over the heavily traveled Christmas and New Year holidays.

The National Mediation Board said declaring the talks at an impasse and removing the legal obstacles to a strike should "assist the parties in resolving their dispute."

The mechanics pledged to strike as soon as legally allowed if an agreement isn't reached, which normally would be as soon as the monthlong cooling-off period ends. But the mediation board recommended the establishment of a presidential emergency board at the end of that period to avoid any possibility of a work stoppage during the holidays,

United had accepted the offer of binding arbitration.

Housing starts decline during October

WASHINGTON >> Housing construction declined in October as builders displayed more caution in the face of sagging consumer confidence and rising unemployment.

The Commerce Department reported yesterday that last month, builders broke ground on 1.55 million housing units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a 1.3 percent drop from September.

The decline, which came after a 0.8 percent increase, pushed housing starts to their lowest level in 10 months.

All the weakness came from single-family home construction, which fell by 1.2 percent in October, on top of a 1.1 percent decline.

In other news ...

WILKESBORO, N.C. >> Shares of Lowe's Companies Inc. fell $1.04 to $42.06 today a day after the company said increased consumer spending on homes and a tightening of corporate expenses led to a 24 percent rise in third-quarter earnings, beating Wall Street expectations.

The nation's second largest home-improvement store chain behind Home Depot Inc. said net earnings were $250.5 million, or 32 cents per share, compared with $202.3 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago.

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