Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




American Classic may repay cruisers

American Classic Voyages Co. is attempting to work out a plan to pay some $10 million to would-be passengers who had paid in advance for trips they were unable to take after the company went into bankruptcy 14 months ago.

The company, which ran American Hawaii Cruises and United States Lines ships in Hawaiian waters as well as riverboats on mainland waterways and North American coastal cruises, listed assets of $37.4 million and debts of $452.8 million, in its Oct. 18 2001 filing.

It has since sold most of its assets, including two unfinished cruise ships that were intended for Hawaii, for $81 million in cash plus the assumption of its liabilities by the buyers.

A judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware has now allowed the defunct company to seek approval from its creditors for a plan to repay those who had booked cruises before the bankruptcy. The judge set a final hearing for Feb. 6. The liquidation plan also is intended to repay the remaining unsecured creditors between 1 cent and 20 cents on the dollar.

American Classic Voyages stock last traded Dec. 31 at less than 1 cent a share.

Ampco snags Pioneer Plaza deal

The owners of the 20-story Pioneer Plaza building in downtown Honolulu have signed Ampco System Parking to manage 327 garage spaces in the building for three years. Along with the contract comes a first for the 1,400 members of the Plaza Club, valet parking. Members of the mostly-business private club that occupies the top two floors of the building can have their cars parked and retrieved by valets in the evenings.

Ampco, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-headquartered ABM Industries Inc., won the new contract from MW Group, a Hawaii property owner that bought Pioneer Plaza in the fall of 2001.


United pilots approve pay cut

CHICAGO >> United Airlines' pilots have approved the 29 percent interim pay cuts proposed by the carrier as part of its push to slash costs heavily in bankruptcy, the pilots' union said yesterday.

Totals from the weeklong voting were not announced.

The 8,800 pilots are the first of United's employee groups to approve wage cuts and, as the highest-paid, will see the most taken out of their paychecks even if other unions follow suit. While longer-term reductions are negotiated, they will give up scheduled raises and take immediate pay cuts.

United's flight attendants also have been voting since last week on whether to accept a 9 percent wage reduction, as agreed to by union leaders. Two smaller unions, representing flight dispatchers and meteorologists, also are conducting ratification votes.

Results from those votes are expected to be announced tomorrow.

The Machinists' union, however, has objected to United's proposal that its members take 13 percent pay cuts, saying the company has not provided sufficient evidence that double-digit reductions are needed.

United says it must reduce wages by $2.4 billion a year through 2008.

Partial settlement reached in tire trial

TUSKEGEE, Ala. >> Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit yesterday with two people injured in a wreck that killed a civil rights leader.

The companies did not settle with Earl Shinhoster's widow, Ruby, and the trial of her wrongful death claims was to continue today with jury selection.

Attorneys and others involved would not discuss the settlement because Macon County Circuit Judge Howard Bryan placed them under a gag order until after the trial. The settlement was confirmed by several sources close to the case. Shinhoster, a former NAACP acting executive director in Atlanta, was a passenger in a Ford Explorer that overturned on June 11, 2000.

Caribbean island goes up for sale on eBay

PALO ALTO, Calif. >> First came a decommissioned missile silo, then an abandoned logging town, and yesterday a Caribbean island became the latest mega-property to list on Internet auction site eBay Inc.

At the minimum bid of $3 million, a sale of the whole island would be the largest ever real-estate deal on eBay, a spokesman for the popular online marketplace told Reuters.

Those with dreams of owning their own tropical getaway will need to have deep pockets to make a play for undeveloped, Thatch Cay, a 230-acre island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Bidding for each of three island parcels starts at $1 million and will end Jan. 16.

Last year, eBay hosted the $2.1 million sale of a former Atlas F missile silo in upstate New York and the $1.78 million auction of the tumble-down Northern California town of Bridgeville.

In other news ...

SPOKANE, Wash. >> Workers at the Boeing Co. parts plant here voted yesterday to accept a 15 percent pay cut, clearing the way for the plant's sale to Triumph Group Inc.

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