Supported by a group of British business leaders, Eurostar reiterated its request to the British government for a bail-out. Operating trains through the tunnel linking Britain and France, Eurostar’s passenger numbers have plummeted by 95% since March. The British government sold its stake in 2015. Eurostar is majority owned by sncf, the French state-owned railway company.
London’s transport authority, Tfl, abandoned plans to make payments on the network completely cashless, after an experiment prompted by COVID concerns last summer was criticised by the official watchdog. COVID is causing problems in other ways. Tfl’s finances are floundering as passengers avoid travel, and the mayor is reluctant to increase fares. Despite securing a 1.8bn pounds ($2.5bn) bail-out last year, Tfl’s financial plans recently submitted to the government forecast more than 3bn pounds in shortfalls in each of the next two years.
United Airlines said it would need to make further cost-cutting measures, after the rate at which it was burning cash to keep flying during the pandemic rose sharply. Its annual loss last year was $7.1bn.
General Motors announced a partnership with Microsoft in which vehicles being developed by Cruise, its autonomous-car startup, will be plugged in to Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform.
Netflix added another 8.5m subscribers in the final months of last year, taking the total to almost 204m. The video-streaming service said it no longer required external financing to fund day-to-day operations and was looking at buying back stock. Its share price soared by 17%.
Jack Ma surfaced in public for the first time since Chinese regulators scotched the IPO of his Ant Group and announced an antitrust investigation that in effect targets his business interests. According to state-backed TV, the founder of Alibaba said that after “studying and thinking” he and his colleagues are “more determined to devote ourselves to education and public welfare”.
After a failed attempt last May, Virgin Orbit at last put its first satellites in space. The company launched the payload on a rocket that is carried under the wing of an old Virgin Atlantic 747 plane, making it theoretically possible to send satellites into space from anywhere in the world.