Spirit Airlines and American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights on Tuesday after several days of disruptions, frustrating passengers across the country.
By midafternoon, Spirit had scrapped more than half its scheduled flights for the day, according to FlightAware, an aviation data firm. The airline canceled more than 40 percent of its flights on Monday and 19 percent on Sunday. Spirit attributed those disruptions to “a series of weather and operational challenges.”
American had canceled about 300 flights by the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, about a tenth of Tuesday’s scheduled trips. The airline canceled about 18 percent of its flights on Monday and 9 percent the day before. American pinned the blame on a weekend storm that hit Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, its large hub airport.
“A prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort Worth on Sunday night into Monday morning brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail to our largest hub,” Curtis Blessing, a spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The nine-hour weather event resulted in flight delays, cancellations and nearly 100 diversions. Our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers.”
Before the spate of disruptions, it had been a relatively good stretch for the two airlines. Only about 2 percent of American’s flights and about 1 percent of Spirit’s flights were canceled last month, according to FlightAware. Both airlines had more cancellations as a share of overall flights in July 2019, according to Transportation Department data.
Most major airlines this summer have suffered widespread delays of at least 15 minutes, however. On a few occasions, bad weather has combined with pandemic-related staffing shortages to cause extended disruptions.
American said that some employees hit the maximum hours they could work in one stretch because of the weather delays this week. The airline said it expected its operations to improve starting Tuesday.
The industry has experienced a relatively strong summer rebound as people emboldened by widespread vaccinations resumed traveling again. More than 2.2 million people were screened at federal airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the most since early March 2020, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Still, air travel remains about 20 percent below 2019 levels.
All autoworkers will be required to wear masks at unionized plants, offices and warehouses, the United Auto Workers union, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis said on Tuesday. The requirement will apply regardless of whether workers are vaccinated and is in response to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The union and automakers said they will not require workers to be vaccinated but are “strongly encouraging” vaccinations.
Requiring passengers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to fly would be “very difficult” until the vaccines, which are authorized under an emergency use provision, receive full federal approval, Ed Bastian, the chief executive of Delta Air Lines, said in a Tuesday interview with CNBC. “The authorization hasn’t been final yet, so stay tuned,” he said. “We’re continuing to encourage as much as we can amongst our own people and our customers to get vaccinated. The numbers are picking up.” Mr. Bastian also said that the airline’s planes were 90 percent full this past weekend.
Microsoft will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors and guests to gain access to its U.S. offices, the tech giant said Tuesday in an email to employees, adding that it will push back its return-to-office date by a month, to no earlier than Oct. 4. Parents with children who are too young to be vaccinated will be able to work from home until January. The company employs roughly 100,000 people in the United States and had previously planned to return to office in early September, though with flexibility for employees to work up to half of their time from home.
Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s largest meat processors, said on Tuesday that it would require vaccines for its U.S. workers — about half of whom remain unvaccinated.
The mandate will extend to employees in its offices and in the field. The poultry supplier is requiring its leadership team to be vaccinated by Sept. 24 and the rest of its office workers by Oct. 1. Frontline employees have until Nov. 1 to be fully inoculated, extra time the company is providing because there are “significantly more frontline team members than office workers who still need to be vaccinated,” a Tyson spokesman said.
Tyson is offering $200 to frontline workers who verify that they are fully vaccinated. The company already offered employees up to four hours of pay if they are vaccinated outside of their normal shift.
Vaccinations will be a condition of employment for all U.S. workers, and any new employees must be vaccinated before they start work, the company said.
Tyson, which is based in Springdale, Ark., is still negotiating the matter with its unions, which represent about one third of its hourly work force.
“We did not take this decision lightly,” the company’s chief executive, Donnie King, wrote in a memo to employees announcing the news. “We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated — today, under half of our team members are.”
To date, more than 56,000 of Tyson’s U.S. 120,000 employees have been vaccinated. Tyson, which had about $43 billion in sales in 2020, is the largest meat and poultry processor in the United States, according to Statista.
Getting union leaders to sign off might be difficult. Marc Perrone, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 24,000 Tyson employees in plants across the country, said in a statement Tuesday that while the union supports and encourages workers to get vaccinated, “it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine.”
“UFCW will be meeting with Tyson in the coming weeks to discuss this vaccine mandate and to ensure that the rights of these workers are protected, and this policy is fairly implemented,” he said.
Companies, jolted by the Delta variant and eager for a return to normal, have announced a steady drumbeat of vaccine mandates for their employees over the past several weeks. But in the private sector, these requirements, which have come from Facebook, Google and Walmart and others, have so far largely focused on office workers rather than the more vulnerable frontline workers. Labor shortages that have affected industries including retail, restaurants and meatpacking have complicated the decision, which has been made more difficult by the economic divide separating those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
The meatpacking industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus, given the close working conditions the job requires. And Tyson has come under fire for its lapses in safety standards, including allegations it failed to provide adequate safety equipment and refusing the requests of local officials to close a plant.
Tyson said Tuesday it had spent more than $700 million related to the pandemic, including buying masks, face shields and providing on-site testing.
In the meatpacker’s home state of Arkansas, about 46 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. It has plants across the country, including in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.
Reese Witherspoon, the Oscar-winning actor who became a force in Hollywood as a producer and an entrepreneur, reached an agreement on Monday to sell her entertainment studio, Hello Sunshine, to a newly created company backed by the investment firm Blackstone Group.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed. Three people with knowledge of the agreement, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the negotiations, said the deal valued Hello Sunshine at roughly $900 million.
Ms. Witherspoon started Hello Sunshine in 2016 with the idea of creating movies and shows centered on women. The company gained momentum on the strength of two of its Emmy-winning series, “The Morning Show” for AppleTV+ and “Big Little Lies” for HBO. With the nearly $1 billion agreement, Ms. Witherspoon is moving beyond the roles that made her famous — in films like “Legally Blonde,” “Wild,” “Walk the Line” and “Election” — and into the ranks of Hollywood’s power brokers.
Ms. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s chief executive, Sarah Harden, will sit on the board of the Blackstone-backed company, which will be led by two former high-level Walt Disney Company executives, Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Ms. Witherspoon and Ms. Harden will have equity in the new company, which does not yet have a name, and will continue to run Hello Sunshine.
“I am deeply proud of the team that got us to this incredible moment,” Ms. Witherspoon said in a statement, “and I’m thrilled to be working with Blackstone, Kevin and Tom to grow a next-generation media company. They are committed to helping our mission to empower women and the people who celebrate them.”
Blackstone struck an agreement to work with Mr. Mayer and Mr. Staggs in December, and they have been looking for acquisitions since then. With Hello Sunshine as a cornerstone, Blackstone, Mr. Staggs and Mr. Mayer plan to build an independent media company meant to take advantage of the ravenous appetite for content when Netflix, Apple, Disney and Amazon are willing to pay big money for the next streaming hit. Longer term, Blackstone views it as a potential stand-alone public company or acquisition target for an entertainment giant.
“There’s a seemingly endless number of streaming services, all in need of content — and so that megatrend we believe is long-dated and really significant,” said Joe Baratta, the global head of private equity at Blackstone. “And so we’ve been searching for a couple of years, really, how to capitalize on that for our investors.”
Hello Sunshine is also the home of Reese’s Book Club, which has more than two million followers and a corresponding app. Ms. Harden, the chief executive, said in an interview that books could be a big part of a move into commerce.
“I think you’re going to see more from us coming in sort of engagement, events, experiences and commerce that are targeted to a female consumer — and a lot centered around the lifestyle of books and reading,” Ms. Harden said.
For Mr. Mayer and Mr. Staggs, the Blackstone-backed media company, with Hello Sunshine at its center, means a return to entertainment.
Mr. Mayer, who helped engineer Disney’s purchases of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm during his more than 20 years at the company, was once seen as a candidate to succeed to Robert A. Iger as Disney’s chief executive. He was passed over in 2020, when the company selected the head of its theme parks division, Bob Chapek. Mr. Mayer went on to be the chief executive of TikTok, only to resign after three months.
Mr. Staggs, who spent more than 25 years at Disney, was another onetime heir apparent to Mr. Iger. He left Disney in 2016, after a year as its chief operating officer.
Edmund Lee contributed reporting.
New details emerged on Tuesday about the involvement of the star CNN anchor Chris Cuomo had in shaping the strategic response to allegations against his brother, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, of workplace sexual harassment.
Chris Cuomo was identified in a report by the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, as an ongoing participant in strategy calls with Governor Cuomo’s inner circle. That group was described to investigators by Richard Azzopardi, the governor’s senior adviser, as “people who have been with us for a long time who we could trust.”
One document included in the report shows Chris Cuomo participating in an email chain on Feb. 28 in which the group drafted a formal public statement for Governor Cuomo; the statement was issued by the governor’s office later that day. Chris Cuomo appeared to weigh in on the wording of the statement, although it was unclear if he wrote it.
Chris Cuomo was also interviewed by investigators from Ms. James’s office as part of their preparation of the report.
CNN had no immediate comment on Tuesday.
Chris Cuomo apologized to CNN viewers in May when it was revealed that he had offered political advice to his brother, a clear breach of traditional ethical barriers between journalists and lawmakers. The anchor, whose 9 p.m. show is CNN’s highest-rated program, called his actions “a mistake,” but he also described himself as “family first, job second.”
CNN took no disciplinary action against its anchor. The network issued a statement calling Chris Cuomo’s actions “inappropriate” and noting that it had previously barred him from covering news stories involving his brother.
In the early days of the pandemic, however, Governor Cuomo was a frequent guest on his brother’s CNN program, especially after Chris Cuomo, who is 13 years younger than the governor, tested positive for the coronavirus. The anchor’s on-air interviews with his brother, which Chris Cuomo conducted from isolation in the basement of his family home, riveted viewers and were praised by CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker.
On Tuesday, CNN aired coverage of Ms. James’s report, and the network carried Governor Cuomo’s televised response. At one point, the CNN anchor John King acknowledged his network colleague’s involvement in a brief statement to viewers.
“I want to put this on the record,” Mr. King said during his midday show. “Many of you know this, but the governor’s brother, Chris, works right here at CNN as an anchor. We should note that he was interviewed as part of this report, as someone who reached out to talk to his brother as this crisis was unfolding.”
YouTube will pay out $100 million to influencers who use its new short-form video product, it said on Tuesday.
YouTube Shorts, which was launched in March in the United States, lets creators post videos up to 60 seconds long with accompanying sounds and music. It is an attempt to compete with TikTok, which has exploded in growth and popularity over the last year and has siphoned off interest from YouTube.
Shorts functions similarly to TikTok and Instagram Reels, another TikTok competitor, letting users remix audio from video across YouTube.
The Shorts fund is separate from YouTube’s Partner Program, which allows top creators to earn a portion of the revenue generated from ads that run before or during their videos. The Partner Program had been the gold standard way for making money among creators, allowing them to earn millions of dollars by racking up views.
But creating high-quality YouTube videos is often time consuming and expensive. Many young creators instead chose to invest their time in TikTok, which also pays creators through a fund based on views.
In the past year, Facebook and Snapchat have also introduced creator funds to woo TikTok creators. Last month, Facebook announced it would pay $1 billion to creators over the next year. Snapchat began distributing $1 million a day in November to users of its TikTok-like Spotlight feature.
YouTube will next week notify the first batch of creators who have earned money through its Shorts fund.
The program is invitation-only for now, with no application process. Each month, YouTube will reach out to several thousand creators whose Shorts are generating high engagement and inform them of their earnings retroactively.
Creators can be eligible for multiple months in a row. They need to set up an account with AdSense, Google’s advertising platform, to collect earnings, which could range from $100 to $10,000 a month. Creators between 13 and 18 must have a parent or guardian organize payment.
YouTube influencers also make money through ticketing, merchandise, producing branded content, paid memberships and more.
“We plan to expand the fund to even more countries in the coming months, as well as grow and evolve the fund as we continue to build more features for Shorts,” YouTube said in a blog post.
Marriott International’s sales more than doubled in the second quarter from a year ago, the latest sign of the recovery in the hospitality industry.
Revenue rose to $3.15 billion in the three months through June, the company said on Tuesday, from $1.5 billion in the year-ago quarter. The lodging giant reported profit of $422 million, compared with a $234 million loss in the same period last year.
The company said that rebound had continued since June, with increasing vaccination rates and easing travel restrictions helping raise occupancy. Global occupancy grew to 51 percent in the second quarter.
“The rate of global lodging recovery accelerated during the second quarter and momentum has continued into July,” Anthony Capuano, Marriott’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The company is seeing pent-up demand from small and midsize groups, as well as social groups that have put off having events for the year, but bookings from large citywide events are still lagging.
Though domestic leisure travel is recovering, that rebound is threatened by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The Biden administration will continue to restrict the entry of Europeans and others into the United States, citing concerns that infected travelers may contribute to further spread of the contagious variant across the country.
“While we are keeping a close eye on the Delta and other variant strains, we are optimistic that the upward trajectory of the global recovery will continue,” Mr. Capuano said in the statement. “Timelines are hard to predict and will continue to vary by region, but I believe that we are on our way to a full global recovery.”
The company said business bookings had also stepped up, although other measures of business travel show it has been slower to recover. Just 9 percent of companies say they have resumed their pre-pandemic travel levels, according to a recent survey by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
But travelers are combining their business and leisure travel, the company said.
“This blending of trip purposes continues to be a real and measurable phenomenon and we think it’s good for our business,” Mr. Capuano said Tuesday on an earnings call with analysts. “We think it will continue well beyond the end of the pandemic.”
China’s campaign to curb its tech industry shows no sign of slowing down, and many companies are on edge.
Not Alibaba. But that is partly because the e-commerce titan was among the first to feel Beijing’s heat.
Alibaba said on Tuesday that it was back in the black in the second quarter after a $2.8 billion antitrust fine led it to book a rare loss the quarter before. Profit for the three months that ended in June was $7 billion, the company said. Revenue was $31.9 billion, up 34 percent from a year earlier.
Beijing has taken aim at fast-growing companies in finance, music, education and other areas in a sweeping effort to rein in what it calls “disorderly” business conduct. In recent weeks, China’s leading ride-hailing company, Didi, has become perhaps the most prominent new target. Regulators pounced on Didi two days after the company went public on Wall Street in late June, citing data security and privacy concerns to order a halt to user sign-ups and app downloads.
Alibaba’s run-in with Beijing may be behind it. But it remains unclear how far the government’s campaign will go, and Alibaba executives did not miss the opportunity on Tuesday to express their support for regulators’ actions.
“We believe all these new regulations aim to foster the healthy development of the internet industry over the long run,” Daniel Zhang, the company’s chief executive, said during a conference call with analysts.
The company is trying to stay in Beijing’s good graces in more substantive ways as well. After it was fined in April for restricting the merchants on its shopping sites, executives vowed to spend heavily this year to lower those vendors’ costs. On Tuesday, the company said that this spending was partly responsible for causing operating profit to fall 11 percent in the latest quarter from a year earlier.
The Associated Press said on Tuesday that Daisy Veerasingham would become its new president and chief executive, the first woman and the first person of color to lead the 175-year-old news agency.
She will succeed Gary Pruitt, who is retiring at the end of the year after almost 10 years in the role. Her start date is Jan. 1.
“There is no doubt it’s a challenging media environment, and like many other media organizations, we’ve come under revenue pressure from time to time,” Ms. Veerasingham said in an interview. “So we really have to shore up our core business in media, but we also have got to work really hard to expand.”
Ms. Veerasingham, 51, joined The A.P. in 2004 as a sales director for its television news division in London. She was promoted to chief revenue officer in 2019 and became the company’s chief operating officer and executive vice president in February.
The A.P., which employs several thousand journalists reporting from 250 bureaus around the world, is interviewing candidates for executive editor, its top journalism job. Sally Buzbee left that post in May to succeed Martin Baron as the executive editor of The Washington Post.
“We’ve got really interesting candidates,” Ms. Veerasingham said, “and we would hope to be able to make an appointment within the next month or so.”
Mr. Pruitt said in a statement that he felt it was the right time “to pass the baton.”
“There is no better person to lead A.P. into its next chapter than Daisy, with whom I’ve worked closely over the past decade,” he said.
Shares of Tencent Holdings and other prominent Chinese video-game companies plunged in Hong Kong trading on Tuesday after a Beijing-affiliated media outlet called their products “spiritual opium.”
The blast from the outlet, Economic Information Daily, followed months of increased pressure from Beijing aimed at the broader Chinese internet industry, which serves one billion users. That pressure has moved global investors to pull billions of dollars out of Chinese technology stocks, on fears that tighter regulation could hurt company prospects.
The Economic Information Daily article did not declare that any specific policy changes would be made, and it was unclear whether it reflected the views of Beijing officials or merely those of the publication’s editors.
Adding to the uncertainty, the link to the article went dead later on Tuesday, though a copy could still be found on the site of Xinhua, the official state news agency, which controls Economic Information Daily.
Despite the uncertainty, nervous investors were quick to sell shares.
Shares of Tencent, a technology conglomerate with a big presence in social media and entertainment in addition to video games, dropped about 10 percent at one point, though the losses later moderated and ended down about 7 percent. Shares of NetEase, another mainland video game company, fell nearly 9 percent.
The article’s headline — “A ‘spiritual opium’ has grown into an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars” — left little doubt at the thrust of the piece. It cited a litany of threats posed by video games, including diverting attention from school and family and causing nearsightedness.
“No industry or sport should develop at the price of destroying a generation,” it said.
The article singled out Tencent, which owns games popular in China like Honor of Kings as well as titles popular around the world, like League of Legends.
Tencent released a statement on Tuesday on its WeChat social media network describing some of the limits it recently decided to put into place, like limiting game time for minors and increasing efforts to ferret out those who lie about their age to play.
The scrutiny isn’t new to Tencent or the industry. More than half of Chinese internet users play online games, according to government statistics. In the past, officials worried that games could hurt children’s academics, damage their eyesight and reduce the country’s military readiness. In 2019, the authorities limited the amount of time young people could spend playing games online.
The global car market is rebounding strongly despite shortages of key components like semiconductors. That was the message Tuesday from German carmaker BMW and Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Peugeot and Fiat, as both reported large increases in profit.
BMW said it made a net profit of 4.8 billion euros, or $5.7 billion, in the second quarter of 2021 compared with a loss a year earlier, when the pandemic forced showrooms around the world to close. Sales soared 43 percent to 28.6 billion euros, driven by particularly strong increases in China and the United States, BMW said. Both sales and profit were higher than the same quarter in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
Stellantis, the product of a merger this year of Fiat Chrysler and the French maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars, reported a net profit for the first six months of 2021 of 5.9 billion euros, compared with a loss a year earlier, after sales rose 46 percent to 75 billion euros.
The Stellantis figures are based on a calculation of what the combined companies’ sales and earnings would have been in the first half of 2020, had the merger already taken place. Stellantis did not publish quarterly figures.
At the same time, both companies, which between them employ more than 400,000 people, warned that a global shortage of semiconductors is continuing to disrupt production.
Nicolas Peter, the chief financial officer of BMW, told reporters during a conference call that the chip famine could curtail production by as much as 90,000 vehicles this year.
That is on top of other risks, including further waves of the pandemic, higher prices for raw materials like steel, and extreme weather like the floods in western Germany last month that killed nearly 200 people. “Confronted with all these risks,” said Oliver Zipse, the chief executive of BMW, “the second half-year will be more challenging for the BMW Group than the first.”
The scramble for temporary guest workers has been intense in recent years, as the jobless rate inched down and tensions over immigration policy ratcheted up. But this year, the competition has been particularly fierce.
To find out how the crunch has been affecting businesses — amusement parks, restaurants, camps and more — Patricia Cohen traveled to Salt Lake City, and Sydney Ember went to Portland, Maine.
Landscapers employ more H-2B workers than any other industry — roughly half of the total approved. Ken Doyle, the president of All States Landscaping in Draper, Utah, said the late arrival of 27 temporary foreign workers had cost him 15 to 20 percent of his business, about $1 million.
“We’re so far behind,” he said. “We’ve lost some very large accounts.”
Under the H-2B visa program, the number of seasonal foreign workers is ordinarily capped at 66,000 a year, split between the winter and summer season. Veteran workers, who returned year after year, used to be exempted from the total, but Congress halted that practice in 2017. The next year, the government instituted a lottery system that injected a new layer of uncertainty on top of a frustrating process.
Programs for temporary guest workers have long come under attack from several corners. Labor groups and immigration critics argue that it robs American workers of jobs and depresses wages. And every year, there are disturbing examples in which foreign workers are exploited by employers, cheated out of pay or living in squalid conditions.
Higher wages could encourage more American-born workers to apply for these jobs, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute at the New York University Law School. But he argues that in every labor market, there are difficult, unpleasant, low-paid jobs with no opportunity for advancement — like agricultural work or meatpacking — that are considered less desirable both for economic and for cultural reasons.
The Future of Transportation
Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide writes that she’s angry about start-up founders who over-promise and behave badly, but she also wonders whether unscrupulous, boundary-pushing executives are an inescapable part of innovation.
The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent on Tuesday reaching a new record. The Nasdaq composite ticked up 0.6 percent.
The Stoxx Europe 600 closed with a 0.2 percent gain. Asian markets were mixed.
Oil prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, down 0.9 percent to $70.61 a barrel.
BMW fell 4.2 percent, while Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Peugeot and Fiat, rose more than 5 percent. Both carmakers reported large increases in profit in their quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, but warned that a global shortage of semiconductors is continuing to disrupt production.