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United boosting baggage fees

Tue., Feb. 5, 2008

United Airlines will begin charging passengers $25 to check in a second piece of luggage for domestic travel if they are not part of its most-frequent-flier programs, the airline said Monday.

The charge will generate more than $100 million in revenue and cost savings each year, UAL Corp. said. The change takes effect May 5 and applies to tickets purchased on or after Monday.

Travelers would have to log at least 25,000 miles in a year on United to ensure they can check their second bag for free.

Airlines want to charge more for checked baggage, assigned seats and other services. Investors have urged airlines to pass on higher fuel costs to passengers through ticket-price increases or similar surcharges.


Factory demand up in December

U.S. factories saw demand for their products rise in December by the largest amount in five months, a spot of welcome news that failed to change the picture of an economy struggling to stay afloat.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that orders placed with U.S. factories rose by 2.3 percent in December – an improvement from the 1.7 percent gain posted in November and the biggest increase since July.

The performance in December was slightly better than the 2 percent rise that economists were forecasting.

Still, Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research likened the December uptick to “a candle in the hurricane.”


Lionel teaming with Neil Young

Lionel LLC and minority owner Neil Young are asking a bankruptcy judge to let them buy out the rock star’s partner in a company that designs the wireless control system for Lionel’s model trains.

Lionel, which hopes to exit bankruptcy protection in the coming months, is teaming up with the rock legend to buy out Young’s partner in Creative Trains Co. Young’s company developed the technology to control trains on multiple tracks simultaneously. The 62-year-old rock musician is highly regarded in the model train industry for his design and technology abilities.

A hearing is scheduled Feb. 21 in U.S. Bankruptcy court in Manhattan.


City’s second paper for sale

Sun-Times Media Group Inc., parent of the Chicago Sun-Times, put the city’s second-largest daily and “any or all” of the company’s assets up for sale Monday amid a crippling decline in advertising and revenue at its newspapers.

The company said its board of directors also is looking at other strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value, including joint ventures or strategic partnerships.

But a sale has been, and remains, widely expected. Key shareholders in the struggling company, which also owns dozens of smaller Chicago-area papers, have been pushing for its sale to boost a badly lagging stock price caused by the industrywide loss of readers and advertisers to the Internet.

To strengthen its attractiveness to prospective buyers, Sun-Times Media has been slashing costs in order to lower annual operating costs by $50 million.


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