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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.tnooz.com

Rateboard, a startup for revenue management technology, has raised €500,000 in seed funding. Austria-based Next Floor Venture Capital provided the funds to the company which has developed a cloud-based system for leisure hotels. Rateboard, which was founded in 2015, has received previous investment of €300,000 via business angels. Matthias Trenkwalder, co-founder and managing director of the startup, says the funds will be invested in expanding the business. The B2B hotel tech space is gaining a lot of attention from both established players and startups. It is seen as relatively untapped by many with a report in 2015 from STR Global estimating that fewer than 10% of properties are using revenue management technology. Expedia launched its Rev+ revenue management tool last September while Priceline’s Booking.com has been steadily developing its BookingSuite segment. Smaller, and newer, players on the scene include PriceMatch which received $9 million in funding in 2015, LodgIQ which raised $5 million last year and HotelSoft, which raised $3 million also in 2016. Meanwhile, Snapshot which seeks to help hoteliers make better decisions based on data, raised €25 million in July 2015. A further tranche of companies in the field includes IDeaS, Duetto which has raised more than $50 million in recent years and Rainmaker, which recently made $300 million from the sale of its real estate technology. With so much startup activity and funding around as well as the circling of the global distribution giants, consolidation will likely be on the cards in the coming months.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

The C919's test flight comes after almost a decade of effort by Chinese authrorities to build a domestic aviation giant and reduce reliance on Boeing and Airbus (AFP Photo/STR) Shanghai (AFP) - China is expected this week to conduct the maiden test flight of a home-grown passenger jet built to meet soaring domestic travel demand and challenge the dominance of Boeing and Airbus. The C919, built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), was set to take wing over Shanghai on Friday, the company said on Wednesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency. "If weather conditions are not suitable, the maiden flight will be rescheduled," COMAC said, adding that engineers had completed some 118 tests. The narrow-body jet represents nearly a decade of effort in a state-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and US aerospace giant Boeing. "The first flight itself is not a huge deal. (But) of course, it's going to be a hugely symbolic moment in the evolution of China's aviation industry," said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal. The C919 is the country's first big passenger plane and the latest sign of growing Chinese ambition and technical skill, coming one week after China launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab. The C919 can seat 168 passengers and has a range of 5,555 kilometres (3,444 miles). - Long way to go - China is a huge battleground for Boeing and Airbus, with its travellers taking to the skies in ever-growing numbers. The Chinese travel market is expected to surpass the United States by 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association. Airbus has estimated Chinese airlines will need nearly 6,000 new planes over the next two decades, while Boeing foresees 6,800 aircraft. Both put the combined price tags for those planes at around $1 trillion. But aviation analysts said Shanghai-based COMAC has a long journey ahead before it can challenge the lock on the market by Boeing and Airbus. "This is an important milestone for China with this new aircraft. But for it to move to the next stage, which is to sell this product, is not going to be so easy," said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics. But COMAC may be able to rely on purchases by fast-growing Chinese airlines. It had already received 570 orders by the end of last year, almost all from domestic airlines. Waldron agreed it would take time but said that over the next century China would become a world aviation player. "You are going to have three big companies. You will have Boeing, you will have Airbus, and you will have COMAC," he said. China has dreamed of building its own civil aircraft since the 1970s, when it began work on the narrow-body Y-10, which was eventually deemed unviable and never entered service. COMAC's first regional jet, the 90-seat ARJ 21, entered service in 2016, several years late. The ARJ 21 is currently restricted to flying domestic routes as it still lacks the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification that would allow it to fly US skies. China also has been in talks with the FAA to obtain certification for the C919, without result. The C919's first test flight had been due to take place in 2016 but was delayed. Besides the C919, China is also working with Russia to develop a long-haul wide-bodied jet called the C929. Although the C919 is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as the engines, which are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric of the US and France's Safran. During a visit to COMAC in 2014, President Xi Jinping expressed concern that not having a homegrown plane left China at the mercy of foreign industrial groups. China last August launched a new multi-billion dollar jet-engine conglomerate with nearly 100,000 employees, with the hope of powering its own planes with self-made engines. After the C919's first flight, it will need to pass tests to obtain Chinese airworthiness certification before it can be sold.


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

PwC's outlook is based on an economic forecast from IHS Markit, which anticipates the Trump administration will attempt a more modest agenda in 2017 than initially suggested. This may impact previous expectations for significant tax and regulatory reform this year. A shift in the supply-demand balance in 2018 is anticipated to result in the first annual decline in occupancy, albeit minor, since 2009. Average daily rate growth of 2.2 percent is expected to drive an increase in RevPAR of 2.0 percent, the slowest growth rate in nine years. The updated estimates from PwC are based on a quarterly econometric analysis of the US lodging sector, using an updated forecast released by IHS Markit and historical statistics supplied by STR and other data providers. "Despite the on-going post-election partisanship, the US economy currently appears to be on firmer footing, compared to the same period last year," said Scott D. Berman, principal and U.S. industry leader, hospitality & leisure, PwC. "Events such as the presidential inauguration and women's march in January boosted demand for hotel rooms in the greater Washington, D.C. market. This, coupled with other anomalies such as timing of Easter and Passover contributed to a good start in 2017. The industry needs to keep its eye on the prize and make sure this momentum can be sustained throughout the rest of 2017." About PwC US At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We're a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 223,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lodging-demand-increases-amidst-increased-consumer-confidence-according-to-pwc-300461091.html


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

The World Health Organization's annual assembly refused to even discuss admitting Taiwan to its annual assembly, under pressure from China (AFP Photo/STR) Geneva (AFP) - Despite impassioned pleas from several countries, the World Health Organization's annual assembly refused Monday to even discuss admitting Taiwan to the meeting, under pressure from China. Self-governing Taiwan, which China sees as a renegade province awaiting reunification, has been invited to attend the WHO's main annual meeting as an observer every year since 2009, but this year it did not receive an invitation. Relations with China have become increasingly frosty since Taiwan's Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took power almost a year ago and China has sought to block the island from a string of international events. In an interview with AFP Sunday, Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said he was "very, very disappointed" to be excluded from the meeting. Representatives from 11 of WHO's 194 member countries, including Nicaragua, Paraguay and Belize, put forth a proposal on Monday -- the first day of the assembly -- to put offering Taiwan permanent observer status onto the agenda. But the assembly decided without a vote to reject the proposal, leaving the issue off the agenda. Pro-Taiwan protesters were demonstrating in front of the UN as the gathering was under way. Robert Browne, the health minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines which was among the countries behind the proposal, warned that "the exclusion of Taiwan erodes the credibility, integrity and effectiveness of this important assembly." His counterpart from Palau, Gregorio Ngirmang, agreed, asking the assembly how he could be permitted to represent the 17,000 citizens of Palau at the meeting "while we ignore the 23 million people in Taiwan." But China hailed the decision to leave Taiwanese observer status off the agenda, insisting that was Beijing's decision alone. "Taiwan is part of China. Questions regarding Taiwan are China's internal affairs," the Chinese representative at the meeting said. Under Tsai's Beijing-friendly predecessor Ma Ying-jeou, a cross-strait agreement was reached allowing Taiwan to sit in on the World Health Assembly as an observer. Today "the political foundation for Taiwan China to participate in the assembly this year is not there anymore," the Chinese representative said Monday. He rejected the notion put forth by the 11 countries that blocking Taiwan could hamper international cooperation and the rapid exchange of information on health matters. The proposal's real agenda, he said, was to help Taiwanese "authorities to manipulate health issues in an attempt to expand their so-called international space and challenge the One china principle."


News Article | April 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

A ferry crash in the port of Las Palmas, Canary Islands, has created a three-kilometre long diesel slick (AFP Photo/STR) Madrid (AFP) - Spanish coast guard crews worked Sunday to clean up a three-kilometre (1.9-mile) long diesel slick off the holiday island of Gran Canaria after a passenger ferry slammed into a pier. The ferry carrying 140 passengers smashed into a breakwater late Friday in the port of Las Palmas, the capital of Spain's Canary islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Thirteen people were injured and the crash damaged underwater fuel pipes, the regional government said in a statement. Video footage on Spanish television showed chunks of concrete falling onto the port. Emergency crews managed on Saturday to collect half of the roughly 60,000 litres (16,000 gallons) of diesel that spilled into the ocean, the regional government said. Three coast guard boats were on Sunday working to break up the slick -- which is three kilometres long and half a kilometre wide -- to help the diesel evaporate, it added. "Work on the spill is continuing and we hope that it will have evaporated before Monday. Experts do not believe there is risk to the environment," Fernando Clavijo, the president of the regional government, said in a tweet. Beaches around Las Palmas and Telde, the two main towns on Gran Canaria, would be closed on Sunday as a precaution, the regional government said. Repairing the pier will cost around two million euros ($2.1 million) and take six months, it added. Ferry operator Naviera Armas said the accident was caused by a technical fault that sparked a power cut on the boat.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Analysts say a faster growth rate in China in the first quarter of 2017 was driven by a pick-up in industry and construction (AFP Photo/STR) Beijing (AFP) - China's economy grew 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, government data showed Monday, beating expectations in the latest sign of stabilisation for the world's second-largest economy. Beijing has said it wants to transition away from a reliance on debt-fuelled investment and towards a consumer-driven economic model, but the transition has proved bumpy. The economy grew at just 6.7 percent in 2016, its slowest rate in a quarter of a century. "For the first time in the recent years, China starts a year with a strong headline GDP," Raymond Yeung of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group told Bloomberg News. "Thanks to strong investment and property, the economy is performing well." The reading Monday marked the second quarterly improvement since the final three months of 2014. It was better than the median analyst expectation of 6.8 percent in an AFP poll, and also up on the fourth quarter figure. "The national economy in the first quarter has maintained the momentum of steady and sound development," the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. It added that "positive changes kept emerging and major indicators performed better than expected". Monday's data also showed China's industrial output growth rose to 7.6 percent year-on-year in March, beating a Bloomberg estimate of 6.3. Retail spending rebounded to a forecast-beating 10.9 percent, while fixed-asset investment rose 9.2 percent in the first three months of the year, representing a slight acceleration from February. The readings follow data showing robust foreign trade and a further expansion in factory activity driven by a pickup in production and demand last month. The faster growth rate was driven by a pick-up in industry and construction, Brian Jackson of IHS Global Insight said in a note, adding that "mining, manufacturing and utilities growth all accelerated", while the services sector slowed. But the return to stimulus spending and infrastructure to drive the economy shows Beijing has reverted to "the same old" investment-driven growth model, Raymond Yeung and David Qu of ANZ Research wrote in a note. They said the government's announcement last month that it would build a vast new economic zone in the relatively unprosperous area of Xiong'an shows authorities have a "tendency to rely on infrastructure development to sustain growth". News of the Xiong'an zone, which is expected to eventually cover a vast area of some 2,000 square kilometres, set off a flurry of speculative real-estate purchases in the area, which has been struggling economically. Cheap credit has meanwhile bolstered the construction sector since last year, attracting savers and speculators who have fuelled housing prices in large cities and accelerated manufacturing activity. But looking ahead, China's growth momentum is not expected to last through the whole year, Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a note. "Our own measure of economic activity also points to a strong start to 2017, though we don't expect the strength to be sustained," he said. "With the acceleration in credit growth that helped drive the recent recovery now being reversed, we still expect the economy to begin slowing before long." Jackson said that a steady deceleration in the real estate sector should take hold from the second quarter, adding that it would "create an additional drag for both the services and construction components of GDP". The government has trimmed its 2017 GDP growth target to "around 6.5 percent". According to the AFP poll's median full-year forecast, China's GDP growth will fall to 6.6 percent for the year.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

IS, which claimed the shooting, has threatened more attacks on Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people (AFP Photo/STR) Cairo (AFP) - The Egyptian military said Thursday it killed a senior Islamic State group cleric and 18 jihadists in air strikes in the Sinai Peninsula where the extremists are waging an insurgency. The announcement came after the jihadists claimed a series of attacks, including a shooting near a monastery this week and twin church bombings on April 9 that killed dozens. Among the jihadists killed was "one of the prominent leaders of the so-called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the head of the religious affairs committee in the group," the military said, without saying when the strikes occurred. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was the name used by the jihadists in the Sinai before they pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014. The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The military has killed several of their top leaders, but the extremists have increasingly expanded their attacks from the Sinai to other parts of Egypt, especially against Christians. The April 9 church bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria followed a December suicide bombing in a Cairo church that killed 29 people, also claimed by IS. On Wednesday, the interior ministry said security forces killed a gunman suspected of killing a policeman and wounding three others near St Catherine's monastery in south Sinai the day before. IS, which claimed the shooting, has threatened more attacks on Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people.


News Article | April 30, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Ballistic missiles are displayed on April 16, 2016 through Kim Il-Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung (AFP Photo/STR) Donald Trump thinks Chinese President Xi Jinping is "putting pressure" on North Korea, the US president said in an interview to air Sunday, as tensions mount over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. If North Korea carries out a nuclear test "I would not be happy," Trump told the CBS television network's "Face the Nation" program. "And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either," Trump said in excerpts of the interview released Saturday. Asked if "not happy" signified "military action," Trump answered: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see." North Korea test-fired a missile over the weekend in apparent defiance of a concerted US push for tougher international sanctions to curb Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions. The latest launch, which South Korea said was a failure, came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Security Council of "catastrophic consequences" if the international community -- most notably China -- failed to pressure the North into abandoning its weapons program. Trump assailed the failed launch as a show of disrespect toward its ally China. "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!" Trump wrote on Twitter. North Korea is seeking to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead. China, Pyongyang's number one trade partner, has repeatedly called for a return to talks on denuclearization but has been reluctant to use economic pressure that could destabilize North Korea. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android.


News Article | April 23, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Ballistic missiles are displayed on April 16, 2016 through Kim Il-Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung (AFP Photo/STR) Australia and New Zealand stiffened their rhetoric against North Korea Sunday after the isolated state threatened Canberra with a nuclear strike, urging it to think twice before "blindly and zealously toeing the US line". The move comes as US Vice President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which has included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test. "If Australia persists in following the US' moves to isolate and stifle North Korea... this will be a suicidal act," a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called the hermit state a "serious threat". The spokesman, speaking to the North's official KCNA news agency, warned Bishop to "think twice about the consequences". Australia's close ally New Zealand has since accused North Korea of having "evil intent". For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee told Television New Zealand Sunday people knew little about Kim Jong-Un's regime but "you would assume that underneath him there is a very big machinery of people who have equally evil intent". "It's North Korea that is sending the missiles into the Sea of Japan and making the various outrageous threats including the threats overnight to Australia," he added. Australia's Bishop added on Sunday that the North Korean government "should invest in the welfare of its long-suffering citizens, rather than weapons of mass destruction". The reclusive state has long been seeking to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five atomic tests, two of them last year. Pence vowed Wednesday that the US would counter any attack with an "overwhelming and effective" response after a senior North Korean official pledged weekly missile tests and "all-out war" if the US took any action against it. In Sydney, Pence maintained calls for Pyongyang's sole ally China to do more to rein in its neighbour. Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also urged China to use its leverage over the hermit state, describing the North Korean regime as "reckless and dangerous". He added that Australia and the US were "absolutely united" in their determination to achieve a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. Supercarrier Carl Vinson is due to start joint exercises with Japan's navy on Sunday, Tokyo's defence ministry said, with the drills expected to last several days and involve two Japanese warships.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests in the last 11 years and is widely believed to be making progress towards its dream of building a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States (AFP Photo/STR) Seoul (AFP) - North Korea warned Monday that it will carry out a nuclear test "at any time and at any location" set by its leadership, in the latest rhetoric to fuel jitters in the region. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running high for weeks, with signs that the North might be preparing a long-range missile launch or a sixth nuclear test -- and with Washington refusing to rule out a military strike in response. A spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said Pyongyang was "fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US". The regime will continue bolstering its "preemptive nuclear attack" capabilities unless Washington scrapped its hostile policies, he said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency. "The DPRK's measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," the spokesman added, apparently referring to a sixth nuclear test and using the North's official name, the Democratic Republic of Korea. The North has carried out five nuclear tests in the last 11 years and is widely believed to be making progress towards its dream of building a missile capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. It raises the tone of its warnings every spring, when Washington and Seoul carry out joint exercises it condemns as rehearsals for invasion, but this time fears of conflict have been fuelled by a cycle of threats from both sides. The joint drills have just ended, but naval exercises are continuing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) with a US strike group led by the aircraft carrier US Carl Vinson. The Pyongyang foreign ministry spokesman said if the North was not armed with "the powerful nuclear force", Washington would have "committed without hesitation the same brigandish aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries". The statement reasserts the North's long-running rhetoric on its military capabilities. Seoul also regularly warns that Pyongyang can carry out a test whenever it decides to do so. Pyongyang's latest attempted show of force was a failed missile test on Saturday that came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed the UN Security Council to do more to push the North into abandoning its weapons programme. Tillerson warned the UN Security Council last week of "catastrophic consequences" if the world does not act and said that military options for dealing with the North were still "on the table". In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS television network's "Face the Nation" programme, Trump said that if North Korea carries out another nuclear test "I would not be happy". Asked if "not happy" signified "military action", Trump answered: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."

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