Archive for September, 2010

Have you waited anxiously for Southwest flights in Atlanta?

It may be what many Atlanta fliers have been hoping for — Southwest flights into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson.

With the announcement Monday that Southwest Airlines is buying AirTran for about $1.4 billion, the airline world is getting shaken up once again.

For years, AJC airline reporters have heard from local passengers anxious for the day that Southwest enters our market.

With AirTran’s biggest hub in Atlanta, it looks like that day could be arriving. Southwest said the deal includes “significant opportunities to and from Atlanta,” AJC staffers Rhonda Cook and Kelly Yamanouchi report.

Have you been craving for Southwest? Why or why not?

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How do MARTA cuts affect you?

Leaving for work earlier? Driving? Car pooling? Walking? Stranded?

MARTA service reductions went into effect Saturday, reports AJC staffer Ariel Hart.

MARTA cut 10 percent of bus service and 14 percent of rail service as it tried to address an estimated $109 million deficit, Hart writes.

What’s the fallout for you? Even if you don’t take MARTA, do you think traffic congestion will get noticeably worse?

Speaking of congestion, any good ideas in these tough financial times? It’s a long time between now and 2012, when a regional sales tax for transportation projects MIGHT get passed.

Also, Hart is working on a story about people’s observations of how MARTA’s cuts worked Monday. If you’d like to comment for her article, please email her at ahart@ajc.com. Thanks.

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Power Breakfast: Job picture cloudy in Coke-CCE merger, MARTA, Georgia nukes, unsafe mortgages

It’s a hot topic at Coca-Cola and its biggest bottler these days, writes AJC reporter Jeremiah McWilliams.

When the dust settles, who will have a job, and where?

With Coke planning to merge its North American business with that of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises soon, talk of coming shake-ups — either jobs moving or being eliminated — has floated around the Coke tower on North Avenue and bottling plants in the Atlanta suburbs, McWilliams reports.

Coke has said the deal will generate annual cost savings of about $280 million over four years, concentrated in manufacturing, information technology and infrastructure including real estate. The company has not said how much of those savings will be in the form of job cuts, McWilliams writes.

The deal awaits only approval by CCE shareholders — expected to be granted at a special meeting Oct. 1 — and an okay from the Federal Trade Commission and Canadian regulators.

Tom Pirko, president of California consulting firm Bevmark, …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Job picture cloudy in Coke-CCE merger, MARTA, Georgia nukes, unsafe mortgages »

What’s your iPhone strategy with Verizon out of the game?

Now what?

Comments from Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Thursday left little room for the possibility of a Verizon version of the iPhone any time soon, Associated Press reported.

Speaking at an investors’ conference, Seidenberg said nothing about an iPhone for the company’s current network, AP wrote.

Instead, he hopes Apple will come around and allow Verizon to sell the phone for a new network it is building. The “4G” network hasn’t yet opened for service and won’t be complete next year, AP reported.

So, it looks like AT&T’s exclusive right to sell the iPhone in the U.S. will endure for awhile, despite rumors to the contrary.

Are you disappointed or not?

Would you get the iPhone if Verizon had it? Will you switch to AT&T when your contract expires now that Verizon appears out of the game in the short-run?

If you’re an AT&T customer, have you noticed an improvement in the network lately or not?

Finally, do you agree with the Verizon CEO when he said:  “We …

Continue reading What’s your iPhone strategy with Verizon out of the game? »

Power Breakfast: Brace for MARTA cuts, Deal finances, Ga. 400 toll, Blockbuster, Beazer, carbon emissions

It’s not what we need right now, but it’s what we’re getting — more MARTA cuts because of a financial crunch.

Will we ever effectively deal with traffic congestion here?

Across the metro area, people who depend on MARTA are bracing, as the agency on Saturday puts the knife to 10 percent of bus service and 14 percent of rail service, AJC staffer Ariel Hart reports.

Of MARTA’s 142,000 daily passengers, the agency estimates 14 percent won’t be in easy walking distance anymore, Hart writes.

The cuts include:

– A total of 2,700 out of 11,500 bus stops will be eliminated.

– Passengers will no longer be able to ride the train before 6 a.m. on weekends.

– Shorter hours for customer service offices, bathrooms, information booths, lost and found, and a host of other services.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Brace for MARTA cuts, Deal finances, Ga. 400 toll, Blockbuster, Beazer, carbon emissions »

Mad about hidden airline fees?

You’re not alone if you’re mad as hell about hidden airline fees.

Petition signatures from more than 50,000 people who visited the website – madashellabouthiddenfees.com — were submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday, organizers said in a news release. The petition urges DOT to “require airlines to make their fees fully and easily accessible,” the release said.

The groups behind the website and petition are the Consumer Travel Alliance, Business Travel Coalition and American Society of Travel Agents.

“Only two weeks ago, we asked travelers to tell us how they felt about hidden airline fees, and we opened a floodgate,” Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, said in the release. “Consumers are clearly mad as hell about fees they can’t see, can’t compare, and can’t predict. There is no excuse for hiding fees from consumers.”

“This issue is not about fees, but about fairness,” Paul Ruden of the American Society of Travel …

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Football Classic Job Fair downtown on Friday

The Georgia Department of Labor and 100 Black Men of Atlanta will co-sponsor the Football Classic Job Fair in conjunction with the game between the Tennessee State and Florida A&M.

The job fair, with about 50 employers expected to participate, will be held Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center.

“Tens of thousands of Georgians are out of work and this event is an excellent way to bring job seekers and employers together,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement.

Applicants are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resumes and be professionally dressed.

Expected employers include:

Accounting Principals, Allied Barton Security Services, Amerisourcebergen, Ark Temporary Staffing, Ashford University, Charter, Correct Health, Credability, DeKalb Workforce Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Jones Investments, EMC Corporation, Emcompass Digital Media, EZ Prints, FBI, FedEx Ground, First Data IS …

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Power Breakfast: Suburban convention centers compete, metro unemployment jumps, Ga. 400, Coke, UPS

How do you compete with the big boys?

Metro Atlanta’s suburban convention centers — which go up against the mammoth Georgia World Congress Center — may have an answer.

Though their sizes pale in comparison to the GWCC — the nation’s fourth largest convention center –  the suburban centers are competitive in a market saturated by every type of meeting space, AJC writer Leon Stafford reports.

They compete by being less expensive, closer to the chain restaurants many conventioneers prefer, by playing up easy access to interstates and by stressing free parking to convention planners whose customers rate that as a top concern, Stafford writes.

It’s a useful strategy when marketing against something as large as the GWCC, Stafford reports.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Suburban convention centers compete, metro unemployment jumps, Ga. 400, Coke, UPS »

Metro Atlanta unemployment jumps to 10.4 percent in August

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate shot up to 10.4 percent in August, from 10.1 percent in July, the state labor department said Thursday.

The number of unemployed workers in the metro area increased to 275,215 — up 6,163, the labor department said.

The metro rate is well above the state’s — 10 percent — or the nation’s — 9.6 percent.

“Many employers are reluctant to hire because of the costs and risks associated with bringing on new employees,” Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement.

A total of 34,027 laid-off workers in metro Atlanta filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in August, the labor department said. That was an increase of 16.1 percent from July.

Most of the first-time claims were filed in wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, administrative and support services, and construction, the labor department said.

There was one positive number in the report — the number of payroll jobs increased in August by 14,800. It now totals …

Continue reading Metro Atlanta unemployment jumps to 10.4 percent in August »

Bill Gates remains richest American, followed by Warren Buffett

Bill Gates retained his top spot as the richest American — with $54 billion, Forbes magazine said Wednesday evening.

Warren Buffett is second — with $45 billion, according to this year’s Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.

Five Atlantans made the list: Anne Cox Chambers, a principal owner of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises; James Kennedy, Chambers’ nephew and the chairman of Cox Enterprises, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A; and Home Depot co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. Blank now owns the Atlanta Falcons.

Ted Turner, who is considered a resident of Lamont, Fla., also made the list (No. 205 worth $1.9 billion.)

This year’s list reflects an increase in wealth among the Forbes 400, who are worth a combined $1.37 trillion. That’s up from $1.27 trillion last year.

Wealth rose for 217 members of this year’s list, while only 85 saw a decline, Forbes said.

But their combined wealth is still below 2008, when it …

Continue reading Bill Gates remains richest American, followed by Warren Buffett »