Business Briefing

British Airways to launch Covid vaccine passport on its app

Avatar regains box office record, £3bn ‘bus revolution’, and other breaking business news

1

Aviation 

BA gears up for return of international travel 

British Airways will launch a digital “vaccine passport” on its app that will allow passengers to upload details of their two Covid-19 jabs to prove they are safe for boarding.  

With international travel set to resume on 17 May, the airline is aiming “to get us flying again” by also “permanently bringing back free water and snacks in economy class on short-haul flights”, says The Times

If passengers have not had the jabs, the app will also record details of negative Covid-19 test results. Earlier this month BA revealed plans to offer customers discounted test kits at an “exclusive” price of £33, Travel Weekly reported.  

Sean Doyle, BA’s chief executive, says people who have been vaccinated “should be able to travel without restriction” and “those who have not been vaccinated should be able to travel with a negative test result”.

BA is “not the first carrier to take the step”, says City A.M. Last week Ryanair launched its own in-app vaccine passport system and airlines such as Qatar Airways, Air Serbia and RwandAir are trialling a version by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).  

2

Transport 

Back on the buses: £3bn plan to upgrade network 

Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for a £3bn shake-up of the bus sector that will level up services across England. According to the Department for Transport, the “bus revolution” will see hundreds of miles of new lanes, simpler fares with daily price caps, and more evening and weekend services. 

Although the prime minister says the reforms will make buses the “transport of choice”, critics have said the strategy “lacks ambition” in addressing the challenge of getting people back on to public transport, The Guardian reports.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “The only way to deliver an effective, integrated, accessible and affordable local bus network is for the government to provide guaranteed ringfenced national funding for all local authorities to deliver the bus services their communities require.”

3

Entertainment

Avatar

Avatar becomes highest-grossing film after China re-release 

Twelve years after its initial release Avatar has once again taken the top spot for the highest-grossing movie of all time. After being re-released in China, James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster has overtaken Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame with box-office revenues moving above the $2.8bn (£2bn) mark. Avatar had held the global box-office title for a decade until Endgame was released in 2019. 

The “biggest winners” from the Avatar-Avengers battle are Disney and Zoe Saldana, Empire reports. Disney owns Marvel and 20th Century Studios while Saldana appears in both movies. Avatar 2 will be released in December 2022.

4

Retail

PwC: full impact of Covid yet to be seen for the high street

Britain’s high streets have been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and a new report has revealed that 17,532 outlets shut up shop in 2020. That’s an average of 48 shops, restaurants and other leisure and hospitality venues permanently closing every day last year.

The alarming research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) does not even include 2021’s figures, accountancy firm PwC said in its report. Lisa Hooker, head of consumer markets at PwC, said the full impact of the pandemic has yet to be felt and the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better, the BBC reports. 

“Unfortunately, there is still quite a lot to play out,” Hooker said. “You’ve seen the closures of the likes of Debenhams and Topshop and that’s happening in 2021 so they’re not even in our numbers.”

5

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin

Getty Images

Bitcoin surges past $60,000 before dipping slightly

Bitcoin’s value continues to surge with the world’s biggest cryptocurrency hitting a record high of more than $60,000 (£43,035) at the weekend. 

With major companies and financial institutions adopting crypto, bitcoin’s rally “accelerates”, CNBC reports. The digital currency has increased by 963% in the last 12 months, according to Coinbase, and its value surpassed $1trn (£717.2bn) last week for the second time this year. 

As of this morning one bitcoin was worth $55,867.36 (£40,083.99) on CoinMarketCap

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