April 1, 2008 in Business

Aloha Airlines shuts down operations

From Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

Aloha Airlines ended decades as “The People’s Airline” Monday with the abrupt shutdown of its passenger service and the firing of 1,900 workers.

The state’s No. 2 airline succumbed to a fierce, two-year interisland fare war and a rapid rise in jet-fuel prices.

The shutdown, which left passengers holding potentially worthless tickets, likely will lead to fare increases by the state’s surviving two carriers, Hawaiian and go! airlines.

Aloha pulled the plug just 11 days after filing for bankruptcy protection and as lawmakers rushed to assemble a bailout package.

Tourism officials said the loss of Aloha would cause confusion and inconvenience for many visitors in the short term, but shouldn’t have a long-term impact on the state’s No. 1 industry.

For inter-island travelers, Aloha’s departure means the loss of an estimated 88,000 seats per week. Hawaiian and go! said they would add enough capacity to make up 56,000 of those seats, but also hinted that prices might rise as early as next week. Hawaiian and go! said they planned to keep inter-island fares at $49 until at least Monday.

Hawaiian and go! also said they would honor Aloha tickets that were purchased for travel from today through Thursday on a standby basis.

The biggest prescription benefit manager in the U.S., Medco Health Solutions Inc., is teaming up with the Swedish government to create a prescription review program for Sweden aimed at preventing medication errors.

Such systems are common in the United States.

Under the agreement announced Monday, Medco will collaborate with Apoteket, the government authority that currently runs all pharmacies in Sweden. The system would cross-check prescriptions and warn pharmacists of possible drug interactions, excessive doses or other problems before medications are dispensed.

Sweden is taking steps to deregulate its retail pharmacy market and allow competition next year

Citigroup Inc. plans to split its consumer banking unit from its credit-card business as part of a broader reorganization to cut costs and simplify the large financial institution’s structure, the company said Monday.

The moves come as CEO Vikram Pandit puts his stamp on the bank, which he took over after Charles Prince was forced out amid massive write-downs on mortgage-linked securities.

Many analysts expect the credit crisis to spread to consumer lending, which would put the credit card business in danger of major write-downs.

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