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Business in brief: Airport posts fewest boardings since 2004

Passenger boardings at Spokane International Airport fell 10.8 percent in 2009 compared with 2008 despite an improvement in December, according to results released Monday.

For the year, 3.1 million passengers boarded outbound planes. That was the fewest since 2004.

December boardings rose to 132,713, a 5.2 percent increase over December 2008.

The 4,928 tons of freight that moved through the airport was a 6.2 percent increase compared with December 2008, but tonnage for the year fell 10 percent to 46,863 tons.

At Felts Field, operations increased for the month and year. December activity jumped 83.3 percent to 3,849, reflecting the impact of the heavy snowfall in December 2008. Operations for the year advanced 1.6 percent to 66,919.

Freight handled in December fell 28.7 percent, to 1.9 tons, compared with the same month in 2008, and 19.8 percent for the year, to 40.5 tons.

Bert Caldwell

Bump in housing market lifts outlook for spring

Miami – The number of people preparing to buy a home rose slightly in December, a positive sign heading into the spring home buying season.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements rose 1 percent from November to December to a reading of 96.6. That was a bit lower than the 97.1 level analysts expected, according to Thomson Reuters.

The index has risen for nine out of the past 10 months as buyers work to take advantage of an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.

Associated Press

Saab’s new owner sees profits by 2012

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Spyker Cars NV, the new owner of Saab, plans to produce three Saab lines and return the troubled Swedish carmaker to profitability by 2012.

Spyker purchased Saab from General Motors Co. last week for $74 million in cash, while GM continues to hold preferred shares in Saab worth $326 million.

Industry observers are skeptical that tiny Spyker, which itself has never made a profit, will be able to turn Saab around. Saab sold 40,000 cars in 2009 and lost $557 million.

Spyker said it will continue to produce Saab’s 9-3 compact executive line, which is based on the Opel Vectra platform, its 9-4 crossover SUV, to be built in Mexico on a Cadillac platform, and its 9-5 midsized line due out this year, based on the Epsilon platform used in many Opels and Buicks.

Associated Press

Cadbury shareholders approve Kraft deal

London – Cadbury PLC shareholders have approved Kraft Foods Inc.’s roughly $19.5 billion offer to acquire the British candy maker – the final step in creating the global food giant.

The focus now shifts to how Kraft will combine the companies and prove it was worth the often bitter fight.

Kraft announced Tuesday that nearly 72 percent of Cadbury shareholders voted in support of the deal.

Together, the companies have roughly $50 billion in annual revenue through sales in 160 countries with their product lineup ranging from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.

The deal gives Kraft access to critical growing international markets like India and Latin America where Cadbury thrives and ups its presence in the lucrative candy and gum market.

Associated Press