Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




Big Island looks to kamaaina tourism

HILO >> With an anticipated slowdown in the tourist industry because of the war in Iraq, the Big Island is urging residents of other islands to pay a visit.

"It's important to remind kamaaina that the Big Island wants them to visit," said George Applegate, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.

"We need kamaaina visitors, as many island residents depend on travel industry jobs," he said. "We want to keep the visitor industry working."

Earlier this month, the bureau announced 50 travel journalists -- one from each state -- would be invited to visit the Big Island free of charge for a week. In return, they would write a travel article or broadcast story to spur travel.

The application deadline is April 15.

Hawaiian Air stock stays halted

Hawaiian Airlines stock, halted at midday Friday before the company announced it was filing for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy, remained inactive today. The shares last traded at $1.50 and there was no immediate indication if the stock would resume trading.

"We do not comment or speculate when a stock will start trading again," American Stock Exchange spokesman Bob Rendine said. "It depends on the company's ability to come forth with information that has to be publicly disclosed."

Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner said he was unsure when the stock could resume trading. A letter on Hawaiian's Web site said the stock will continue to be publicly traded.

The airline's stock is down 26.5 percent this year and 54.6 percent over the past 52 weeks.

Tesoro refinery to get maintenance

Tesoro Petroleum Corp., operator of one of Hawaii's two oil refineries, plans to spend $13 million on scheduled maintenance at the Kapolei refinery in the first quarter of next year.

The San Antonio company has said it will temporarily close the refinery for an unspecified number of days to complete the routine maintenance, known as a turnaround. Tesoro last closed the refinery for maintenance in 2000.

No disruptions in supply are expected.

Also next year, Tesoro plans to spend $43 million on maintenance on its California refinery and $8 million on its Washington refinery. This year, Tesoro is spending a total of $42 million on refinery maintenance, according to a filing Friday with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

ChevronTexaco Corp., operator of Hawaii's other refinery, is temporarily closing part of its Kapolei refinery in April for scheduled maintenance, for about 36 days.


Delta cuts capacity 12 percent

ATLANTA >> Delta Airlines Inc. said on today it will cut its network capacity by about 12 percent because the Iraq war is causing fewer people to fly.

Delta is the last of the five largest U.S. airlines --which also include AMR Corp.'s American Airlines Inc., UAL Corp.'s United Airlines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp. and Continental Airlines Inc. -- to announce staff or capacity cuts in the past week.

"Military action in the Middle East and the resulting heightened security sensitivities have contributed to a steep decline in passenger demand," said Subodh Karnik, a Delta senior vice president.

Shipper Airborne talking deal with DHL

NEW YORK >> Airborne Inc., the third-largest U.S. express shipper, said today it is in talks to sell its U.S. ground-delivery network to DHL Worldwide Express, a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Post.

The proposed deal, which is set to create a rival to ground operations of bigger shippers FedEX Corp. and Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc., comes as a skittish U.S. economy fuels competition and rising fuel costs jolt the industry.

Media reports put the price at about $1 billion. In a statement dismissing an earlier announcement by its spokesman, Seattle-based Airborne said no agreement has been reached and there can be no assurance one will be reached. Deutsche Post confirmed it was in talks with Airborne.

In a news release today, Airborne said its air operations would remain wholly owned by current shareholders should a deal be reached and completed.

Starwood withdraws earnings estimates

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. >> Hotel operator Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. today said it has withdrawn earnings estimates for the year, saying it had not anticipated the significant deterioration in business stemming from the Iraq conflict.

The company, which operates the Four Points, Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W Hotels chains, said it will suspend giving a forecast until such time that it can more accurately predict the business impact of the war and the impact and timing of an economic recovery.

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