ATA AIRLINES FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: ATA Airlines shut down operations and stranded thousands of travelers Thursday when an unexpected loss of key charter flights and soaring fuel costs forced the carrier to file for bankruptcy protection. Once the nation's 10th-largest air carrier, ATA headed to bankruptcy court for the second time in a little more than three years. The company had more than 2,200 employees, and "virtually all" were told that their jobs were gone, company spokesman Michael Freitag said. Many passengers learned of the collapse at ticket counters, where advisories were posted in the handful of cities ATA still served. Airlines are struggling with rising fuel prices, labor strife, depressed ticket demand and heightened competition, but analysts don't think larger carriers are in imminent danger of bankruptcy. The surprise announcement by ATA came just two weeks after Aloha Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection. The airline, which served Hawaii for more than 60 years and was the islands' second-largest carrier, ended passenger service Monday. Hawaiian Airlines, the state's biggest airline, could emerge as the biggest winner. A number of other domestic carriers also fly to the islands, and each likely will see additional traffic flowing their way now that two rivals are out of the picture. "It helps all the carriers who fly from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii," Avondale Partners airline analyst Bob McAdoo said. "There'll be less seats offered at really deep discounts." Flights between the islands could grow more expensive with Aloha out of the picture.
FIXED-RATE MORTGAGES INCREASE: Rates on 30-year and 15-year mortgages rose this week, delivering another dose of unwelcome news to the troubled housing industry. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.88 percent for the week ending April 3. That was up from last week's 5.85 percent and was the highest since the middle of March, when 30-year rates stood at 6.13 percent. The increase in mortgage rates isn't welcome news to prospective home buyers in an environment where obtaining financing to buy a home or other big-ticket items has become more difficult.
APPLE: ITUNES WHIPS WAL-MART IN SALES: Apple Inc. says a new consumer study shows its iTunes online music store vaulted past Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in February to become the top overall music retailer in the United States. Apple said Thursday that consumer surveys conducted by market research firm The NPD Group show iTunes' music sales surpassed those of the discount retailing giant in January and February. Since its launch in 2003, iTunes has sold more than 4 billion tracks, thanks in part to the popularity of its line of iPod portable music players. The NPD surveys count every 12 digital downloads as one CD. They exclude mobile music sales.
TOP RATING FOR SMART CAR DESPITE IMPACT TEST: A government crash test of the 2008 Smart Fortwo micro car, the fuel-sipping vehicle that made its debut in the United States this year, has found a safety concern in side-impact testing, officials said Thursday. During the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration side test on the Smart two-door, the driver door unlatched and opened. The government said that could lead to a driver or passenger being ejected from the 8-foot, 8-inch vehicle. However, the NHTSA still gave the car its top score of five stars in side testing because of the ability of the car to protect the driver and passenger from injuries in a crash.
SPITZER SCANDAL A CASH COW FOR HOTEL: Sometimes, a little scandal can be good for business. Ever since news of then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's purported $4,300 tryst broke last month, the Mayflower Hotel, where he supposedly met a call girl, has been awash with tourists, gawkers and assorted voyeurs all wanting their own piece of the action. The center of the storm has been the hotel's tiny gift shop, tucked away on the first floor and stocked with merchandise bearing the Mayflower logo.
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30: Percentage of open positions in 2007 that were filled by internal movement, according to CareerXroads Annual Sources of Hire Study.
28.7: Percentage of all external hires that were made based on referrals.
25.7: Percentage of external hires that were attributed to job boards.
5: Percentage of hires that were made from traditional print sources.
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