The shampoo bottle saving babies from pneumonia

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Media captionThe Bangladeshi doctor who turned a shampoo bottle into a low-cost lifesaver

“It was my first night as an intern and three children died before my eyes. I felt so helpless that I cried.”

In 1996, Dr Mohammod Jobayer Chisti was working in the paediatric department of the Sylhet Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh. That evening he made a promise that he would do something to stop children dying from pneumonia.

About 920,000 babies and small children die from the disease each year, mostly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

After two decades of research, Dr Chisti has now come up with a low-cost device with the potential to save thousands of babies’ lives.

Expensive machines

Pneumonia affects the lungs after infections from bacteria like streptococcus (strep throat) or a virus such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The lungs become swollen and fill with fluid or pus, reducing their ability to take in oxygen.

In developed countries hospitals use ventilators to help children with pneumonia to breathe.

But each machine can cost up to $15,000 (£11,000) and must be operated by specially-trained staff which can make them too expensive for hospitals in developing countries such as Bangladesh.

The World Health Organisation’s recommended low-cost alternative treatment for severe pneumonia – low-flow oxygen – still results in one in seven children dying.

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The pressure from the bubbles in Dr Chisti’s device keeps the small air sacs of the lungs open

Dr Christi got his inspiration from a machine he saw while working in Melbourne, Australia. This uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to prevent the lungs from collapsing, helping the body to absorb enough oxygen. But it is expensive.

When he returned to work at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, he started work on a simpler, cheaper bubble CPAP device.

He and a colleague took a discarded plastic shampoo bottle from the intensive care unit, filled it with water and inserted one end of some plastic supply tubing.

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“The children inhale oxygen from a tank and exhale through a tube which is inserted into a bottle of water producing bubbles in the water,” Dr Chisti explains.

The pressure from the bubbles keeps the small air sacs of the lungs open.

“We tested it on four or five patients at random. We saw a significant improvement within a few hours.”

Successful Trial

“Doctors worked so hard; oxygen, a pipe for food, and then a white round bottle was connected with water bubbling away,” says Kohinoor Begum, whose daughter Runa was treated by the device.

“After the treatment, when my child recovered, I felt so happy.”

After a two year study, Dr Chisti published the results in The Lancet magazine. It showed children treated with the bubble CPAP device had much lower death rates compared with those treated with low-flow oxygen. At a cost of just $1.25 (£1), the device appeared to cut mortality rates by 75%.

The device also makes much more efficient use of oxygen, slashing the hospital’s annual oxygen bill from $30,000 (£23,000) to just $6,000 (£4,600).

Dr ARM Luthful Kabir, professor of paediatrics at Ad-din Women’s Medical College, says a nationwide study is still needed but the results are encouraging.

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Kohinoor Begum and Rezaul Karim with daughter Runa, one of 600 babies treated using the device

“I think this innovation has great potential to reduce the mortality rate drastically because any hospital can afford this,” Dr Kabir says.

So far, about 600 children have benefited from the low-cost life saver.

Dr Chisti has been promoted and is now head of clinical research at his hospital but the father-of-three still finds time to play with the children on the ward.

When asked how he feels to be fulfilling that promise he made 20 years ago he replies: “I have no language to express this.”

He wants every hospital in developing countries to have the CPAP device available to them.

“On that day, we can say that pneumonia-related mortality is near zero.”

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40498395

Have you been nudged? – BBC News

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Richard Thaler has won a Nobel prize for his research into ‘nudge’ theory

Think the Nobel prize for economics has nothing to do with you? In some years that may well be true.

But this year’s award has gone to Richard Thaler who, in his book Nudge, was one of the first to outline how tiny prompts can alter our behaviour.

The Nobel judges are clearly keen on the discipline, since they awarded fellow behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman the Economics prize in 2002.

Since when “nudge theory” has been applied to a wide range of problems.

Here are a few ways you may have been nudged yourself.

Fly in my bowl

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In probably the most well-known example, spillage around the toilet, an age old problem for at least half of the human race, was cut by 80% using an ingeniously simple intervention.

First introduced at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam back in 1999, the idea was simple: etch the image of a fly in the urinal and men cannot help but take aim, saving on clean-up costs as well as alleviating unpleasantness.

The painted porcelain was one of Prof Thaler’s early favourite examples of tweaking the environment in a way that makes us change how we behave.

  • ‘Nudge’ economist Richard Thaler wins Nobel Prize
  • Kamal Ahmed: The economics of how we live

Taxing issues

When David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, one of his pet projects was the “Nudge Unit” or to give it its official title: the Behaviourial Insights Team.

It set about encouraging better behaviour amongst UK citizens in a range of ways from letting you know that other people had filled in their tax returns (so you should do yours now) to offering a more personal approach at the job centre.

But the most eye-catching, for those on the receiving end, was what you were sent if you failed to pay your car tax.

A big heading shouted: “Pay your tax or lose your Ford Fiesta” (or whatever car you owned) accompanied by a photograph of the untaxed car. The focused approach paid off.

A more positive tone was taken with the wealthy failing to pay their taxes. They received letters explaining how their taxes would help improve local services, and pointing out what would disappear without funding. These tweaks saw £210m in overdue tax paid into the Treasury.

Baby face

Woolwich in south-east London had a problem with anti-social behaviour. During the riots in 2011 several shop fronts were smashed in.

The following year advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, embracing the new science of behavioural economics, offered an innovative strategy.

Knowing that even the toughest heart is melted by the sight of a infant, they spent a night with graffiti artists painting pictures of local babies’ faces onto the shutters protecting the shop windows.

The move was credited with helping to reduce anti-social behaviour by 18% in Woolwich.

Ringing up sales

If you’ve ever been on the phone to a salesperson, you may well have heard one of the following:

“Most people in your position buy this” or “This deal is only available today”.

The first plays on our susceptibility to “social norming” – we think if others are doing it they must have a good reason.

The second is based on loss aversion: we hate the idea of missing out.

Thirdly, there can often be a tone of inexplicable cheeriness. Relentless positivity is catching apparently, and makes us feel good about signing up.

Big brands have embraced the idea. For example, a team from Ogilvy and Mather has coached staff selling subscriptions to the Times and the Sunday Times to use these persuasive techniques. Did they work on you?

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Opting out

In the past, people who want to donate their vital organs in the event of their death have usually been asked to “opt in” by putting their name on a register. Thanks in part to behavioural economics, there’s a growing trend to adopt policies that presume consent and ask objectors to “opt out”.

Though the results are inconclusive it’s clear we’ve embraced the concept – that we need to design the system in a way that helps us to “do the right thing” rather than rely on individuals’ consciences.

Likewise, we all know we need to save for our retirement, but it can be hard to summon the will-power.

The “save more tomorrow” approach pioneered in the United States saw employees automatically signed up to pay into a pension, but starting with very small contributions to avoid loss-aversion that could make them baulk. Only later do payments rise.

All if all this makes you feel as though the policymakers and marketers are only out to manipulate us, well at least thanks to Prof Thaler we now understand what they’re up to a little better.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41549533

‘I quit Google and launched a business with my mum’

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Rahul Akerkar

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Munaf Kapadia and his mother Nafisa

Munaf Kapadia runs a successful “pop up” restaurant at his family’s home in Mumbai. His mother also works as head chef.

While watching TV one Sunday afternoon back in 2014, Munaf Kapadia had an argument with his mother that would change his life.

The then 25-year-old Google employee wanted to watch US cartoon the Simpsons, but as usual, his mother Nafisa preferred to see her favourite Indian soap opera and switched channels.

It got Mr Kapadia thinking.

His mum had lots of skills, but in his view she spent too much time watching bad TV.

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Diners usually eat Bohri food from the same large platter, or “thaal”

Determined to get her doing something more meaningful, he struck upon an idea.

Nafisa had always been good at cooking “Bohri” food, an Indian cuisine that is much feted, but hardly served anywhere in their home city of Mumbai.

And so he decided to email 50 friends, inviting them for lunch at the family home.

“We settled on a group of eight friends of friends, and served them my mom’s food,” recalls Mr Kapadia, now 28.

“Then we started doing it every Saturday and Sunday, opening it up to the public and charging like a restaurant. That’s how The Bohri Kitchen was born.”

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Members of the public dine at the Kapadias’ home every weekend

Traditionally, Bohri cuisine has only been available within the Dawoodi Bohra community, a small Muslim sect that lives in parts of India and Pakistan.

As Mr Kapadia says, “you literally had to beg Bohri friends or gatecrash Bohri weddings” to get a spoonful of it.

It blends Gujarati, Parsi, Mughlai and Maharastrian influences, and is often enjoyed by groups of friends or families, who eat from the same large steel platter, or “thaal”.

For his first “pop-up” lunch, Mr Kapadia charged guests 700 rupees (£8, $11) per head for a traditional seven-course banquet. By the time they had finished eating he knew the idea had potential.

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Mutton Khichda – goat meat cooked with dal and rice along with various Indian spices

Typical Bohri Kitchen dishes:

  • Mutton Khichda – goat meat cooked with dal and rice along with various Indian spices
  • Chana Bateta Thulli – chick peas and potatoes cooked in a tamarind-based sauce, served with cracked wheat
  • Chicken Angara – smoked chicken in a tomato-based gravy, served with homemade Indian flatbreads

“I was really shocked, but they actually hugged my mom. They said, ‘aunty, you have magic in your hands, this food is outstanding!’.”

He adds: “I saw the glint in my mom’s eyes when she got that acknowledgement, which she is not used to, because we in the family take her cooking for granted.

“That’s when I decided to just keep on doing this, I thought let’s try to keep getting new people exposed to my mother’s cooking skills.”

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The Bohri kitchen has launched a takeaway business

So Mr Kapadia quit his marketing job at Google, and in January 2015 launched the “The Bohri Kitchen” as a brand.

Thanks to word-of-mouth publicity and some good reviews, it quickly gained a reputation among adventurous young food-lovers.

Mr Kapadia now charges 1,500 rupees per meal, typically offering lunches and occasional dinners at his parents’ home.

He has also launched a separate takeaway and catering business, which operates through the week, and employs three members of staff from outside the family.

The firm recently broke into profit and is now looking to open outlets across India.

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But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. For one thing, it took Mr Kapadia a while to get used to hosting strangers in his home.

“We started a ‘no serial killer policy’, so customers can’t just book a seat, they have to ask for it,” he says. We then do a background check by calling them up and asking a few questions to make sure they’re legitimate.”

There have been other challenges too, including convincing his parents that he wasn’t crazy for leaving his job at Google, and learning how to hire good staff.

“My biggest challenge now is ensuring that our takeaway produces the same quality of food that my mother makes at home.”

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Bohri Kitchen samosas are stuffed with smoked lamb mince, coriander, onion and lemon

Ravinder Yadav, of management consultancy Technopak Advisors, says that many Indian food businesses struggle to build a loyal customer base.

“These days, consumers in India have plenty of options when it comes to eating out. So making sure you know who your consumer is, and creating something that they will keep coming back to, is vital, even for the biggest brands.”

Still, he says in some respects things are getting easier.

“Finding investment is less of a challenge in India nowadays. And the government is making it easier to do business, so it’s simpler to get the licenses you need and to meet other regulations.”

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Kinjal Pandya-Wagh

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The dessert Doodhi Halwa is made by slow-cooking calabashes in milk, with dry fruits and sugar

India’s food services industry is also expanding fast. In the past decade, consumer spending power has grown, along with people’s appetite for eating out and ordering takeaways.

Mr Kapadia’s mother, the hidden culinary talent behind The Bohri Kitchen, says that the business has brought out a different side of her personality.

“I have never looked at this from a business angle, it’s just something that I love doing,” she says.

“And when guests say my food reminds them of home, it’s amazing. I get a lot of satisfaction and happiness.”

But has her son managed to wean her off her TV habit? Not likely, she says with a giggle.

“I still watch all my favourite soaps while cooking for our guests.”

You can hear an interview with Munaf Kapadia on The Big Debate on BBC Asian Network, Monday 9 October.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41467962

How the search for a ‘death ray’ led to radar

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You can trace the extent of our reliance on air travel to many inventions. The jet engine, perhaps, or the aeroplane itself.

But sometimes inventions need other inventions to unlock their full potential.

For the aviation industry, that story starts with the invention of the death ray, or at least an attempt to design a death ray, back in 1935.

Officials in the British Air Ministry were worried about falling behind Nazi Germany in the technological arms race.

The death ray idea intrigued them: they had been offering a £1,000 prize for anyone who could zap a sheep at a hundred paces. So far, nobody had claimed it.

But should they fund more active research? Was a death ray even possible?

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Sasha

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Harry Grindell Matthews claimed to have invented a death ray in 1923, but couldn’t persuade the British government to buy it

Unofficially, they sounded out Robert Watson Watt, of the Radio Research Station.

And he posed an abstract maths question to his colleague Skip Wilkins.

“Suppose, just suppose,” said Watson Watt to Wilkins, “that you had eight pints of water, 1km [3,000ft] above the ground.

“And suppose that water was at 98F [37C], and you wanted to heat it to 105F.

“How much radio frequency power would you require, from a distance of 5km?”

Opportunity

Skip Wilkins was no fool.

He knew that eight pints was the amount of blood in an adult human, 98F was normal body temperature and 105F was warm enough to kill you, or at least make you pass out, which – if you’re behind the controls of an aeroplane – amounts to much the same thing.

So Wilkins and Watson Watt understood each other, and they quickly agreed the death ray was hopeless: it would take too much power.

But they also saw an opportunity.

Clearly, the ministry had some cash to spend on research. Perhaps Watson Watt and Wilkins could propose some alternative way for them to spend it?

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Robert Watson Watt played a key role in developing radar technology

Wilkins pondered. It might be possible, he suggested, to transmit radio waves and detect – from the echoes – the location of oncoming aircraft long before they could be seen.

Watson Watt dashed off a memo to the Air Ministry’s newly formed Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence. Would they be interested in pursuing such an idea? They would indeed.

What Skip Wilkins was describing became known as radar.

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations that helped create the economic world.

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As Robert Buderi describes in his book The Invention That Changed the World, the Germans, the Japanese and the Americans all independently started work on it too.

Spectacular breakthrough

But by 1940, it was the British who had made a spectacular breakthrough: the resonant cavity magnetron, a radar transmitter far more powerful than its predecessors.

Pounded by Nazi bombers, Britain’s factories would struggle to put the device into production. But America’s factories could.

For months, British leaders plotted to use the magnetron as a bargaining chip for American secrets in other fields.

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Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided Britain should share its radar research with the US

Then Winston Churchill took power, and decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

Nerve-wracking journey

Britain would simply tell the Americans what they had, and ask for help.

So in August 1940, a Welsh physicist named Eddie Bowen endured a nerve-wracking journey with a black metal chest containing a dozen prototype magnetrons.

First, he took a black cab across London: the cabbie refused to let the clunky metal chest inside, so Bowen had to hope it wouldn’t fall off the roof rack.

Then, he took a long train ride to Liverpool, sharing a compartment with a mysterious, sharply dressed, military-looking man who spent the entire journey ignoring the young scientist and silently reading a newspaper.

Then, he took a ship across the Atlantic. What if it were hit by a German U-boat? The Nazis couldn’t be allowed to recover the magnetrons; two holes were drilled in the crate to make sure it would sink if the boat did. But the boat didn’t.

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MIT Museum

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MIT’s Radiation Laboratory went on to spawn 10 Nobel laureates

The magnetron stunned the Americans. Their research was years off the pace.

President Roosevelt approved funds for a new laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – uniquely, for the American War effort, administered not by the military but a civilian agency.

Industry got involved: the very best American academics were headhunted to join Bowen and his British colleagues.

Patchy rollout

By any measure, MIT’s Radiation Laboratory – known as the Rad Lab – was a resounding success. It spawned 10 Nobel laureates. The radar it developed, detecting planes and submarines, helped to win the War.

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Radar played a crucial role in helping Britain and her allies win World War Two

But urgency in times of war can quickly be lost in times of peace.

It seems obvious that civilian aviation would need radar too, given how quickly it was expanding.

In 1945, at the War’s end, US domestic airlines carried seven million passengers. By 1955, this figure had risen to 38 million.

And the busier the skies, the more useful radar would be at preventing collisions.

But rollout was slow and patchy. Some airports installed it; many didn’t.

In most airspace, planes weren’t tracked at all. Pilots submitted their flight plans in advance, which should in theory ensure that no two planes were in the same place at the same time.

But avoiding collisions ultimately came down to a four-word protocol: “see and be seen”.

Disastrous crash

On 30 June 1956, two passenger flights departed Los Angeles Airport, three minutes apart: one was bound for Kansas City, one for Chicago. Their planned flight paths intersected above the Grand Canyon, but at different heights.

Then thunderclouds developed. One plane’s captain radioed to ask permission to fly above the storm. The air traffic controller cleared him to go to “1,000 on top” – 1,000ft above cloud cover. See and be seen.

Nobody knows for sure what happened: planes then had no “black box” flight recorders, and there were no survivors. At just before 10:31, air traffic control heard a garbled radio transmission: “Pull up! We are going in…”

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Alamy

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The 1956 crash was a watershed moment in the history of airline safety

From the pattern of the wreckage, strewn for miles across the canyon floor, the planes seem to have approached each other at a 25-degree angle, presumably through a cloud.

Investigators speculated that both pilots had been distracted by trying to find gaps in the clouds, so passengers could enjoy the scenery.

Accidents happen. The question is what risks we’re willing to run for economic benefits.

More from Tim Harford:

Why did we use leaded petrol for so long?

How the smartphone became so smart

Battery bonanza: From frogs’ legs to mobiles and electric cars

How economics killed the antibiotic dream

That question is becoming pertinent again with respect to crowded skies: many people have high hopes for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

They’re already being used for everything from film-making to crop-spraying.

Companies such as Amazon expect the skies of our cities soon to be buzzing with grocery deliveries.

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There have been occasions of near misses between drones and other aircraft

Civil aviation authorities are grappling with what to approve. Drones have “sense-and-avoid” technology, and it’s pretty good, but is it good enough?

The crash over the Grand Canyon certainly concentrated minds. If technology existed to prevent things like this, shouldn’t we make more effort to use it?

Within two years, what’s now known as the Federal Aviation Administration was born in the United States.

And American skies today are about 20 times busier still. The world’s biggest airports now see planes taking off and landing at an average of nearly twice a minute.

Collisions are absurdly rare, no matter now cloudy the conditions.

That’s thanks to many things, but it’s largely thanks to radar.

Tim Harford writes the Financial Times’s Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41188464

Could a hacker hijack your connected car?

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What if your self-driving car took on a mind of its own?

As more carmakers adopt “over the air (OTA)” software updates for their increasingly connected and autonomous cars, is the risk of hacker hijack also increasing?

Imagine jumping in your car but being taken somewhere you didn’t want to go – into oncoming traffic, say, or even over a cliff.

That may seem like an extreme scenario, but the danger is real.

Hackers showed two years ago that they could remotely take control of a Chrysler Jeep.

And earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk warned about the dangers of hackers potentially taking control of thousands of driverless cars.

“I think one of the biggest concerns for autonomous vehicles is somebody achieving a fleet-wide hack,” he said, speaking at a National Governors Association meeting.

“In principle, if someone was able to… hack all the autonomous Teslas, they could say – I mean just as a prank – they could say ‘send them all to Rhode Island’ – across the United States.

“And that would be the end of Tesla, and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island.”

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Tesla can update its cars’ software wirelessly, but what are the risks?

Mr Musk insists that a kill switch “that no amount of software can override” would “ensure that you gain control of the vehicle and cut the link to the servers”, thus preventing the Rhode Island scenario.

As cars become more sophisticated, incorporating semi-autonomous features such as lane keeping, automatic braking and self parking, and their “infotainment” systems are connected to the internet, the amount of software code needed to control these systems is ballooning.

Keeping all these software programs updated has typically required drivers to visit the dealership.

“For automakers and their customers alike, such repair-shop visits are a huge waste of time and money, and online updates can significantly reduce this,” explains Dr Markus Heyn, board member of automotive electronics and processing supplier, Bosch.

So OTA updates give manufacturers the ability to respond quickly as problems arise. And fixing bugs this way is safer than sending out physical USB sticks – which is what Chrysler did to patch its Jeep.

Critics pointed out that criminals could have intercepted the USB sticks and sent out their own malware-infected versions instead.

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Can you be sure your self-driving car is taking you where you want to go?

It’s hardly surprising then that there are strong moves in the industry towards OTA updates, which mean that new features can be added, and bugs patched, in just an hour or two, all without inconvenience to the owner.

General Motors, for example, says it expects to be updating engine software using its OnStar network by the end of this decade, thanks to a new electrical architecture for its vehicles.

Meanwhile, Bosch is planning to start offering OTA updates through control units and in-car communication infrastructure developed in-house, distributing the updates via its “internet of things” (IoT) cloud.

Research consultancy IHS Markit estimates that by 2022, 160 million vehicles globally will have the capability to upgrade their onboard computer systems over the air.

Electric carmaker Tesla recently demonstrated the benefits of OTA updates when Hurricane Irma was threatening Florida early in September.

As people were warned they should evacuate, Tesla owners were given an unexpected and potentially life-saving freebie – an extra 45 miles of range.

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Florida Tesla owners fleeing Hurricane Irma were given extra range via an over-the-air update

The ability to go further without a recharge was already built into the cars, but was unavailable to drivers until the company unlocked extra battery capacity.

“We have a certain number of cars which we sell at a 60kW [kilowatt] price point, but for reasons of manufacturing efficiency we install a 75kW battery, which people can upgrade,” a spokeswoman explains.

“A customer wrote to us and asked if it would be possible to increase it temporarily as they were planning their route out of Florida.”

Tesla unlocked the extra power by sending an OTA update to the cars via wi-fi or 4G.

But there’s no doubt that OTA updates present a new set of risks.

For a start, we’ve all, at one time or another, attempted to update the software on our computer or phone, only for the process to go wrong.

An unusable car could be rather more of a problem than a “bricked” – or unusable – phone.

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In 2015, 15% of car recalls in the US were related to software errors, up from 5% four years before.

When an update fails it’s automatically re-sent, but this doesn’t always have the desired effect. On one occasion early last year, a Tesla software update designed to add an “autopilot” feature is believed to have affected the climate control of thousands of vehicles.

Then there is the risk of “man-in-the-middle” attacks – hackers intercepting the updates in transit.

This is why extra special care is taken over OTA updates, says Robert Moran, an expert in car connectivity and security at NXP Semiconductors.

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You wouldn’t want hackers taking control of your car on this road…or any other for that matter

“There are checks at each stage of the update process,” he says. “Updated software coming over the air is going to be received in parallel.

“Only once it’s passed a number of security checks – Does it have validation? Is it from a trusted source? – is the new software actually used.

“It’s at a different level to what we have with laptops today.”

Manufacturers are also addressing the hacker threat by isolating the various systems in the car so that, for example, the radio is isolated from the steering wheel, the powertrain from the brakes – each system protected by its own encryption.

“Ultimately, as cars have become more connected, it does potentially create a bigger target,” admits Mr Moran, “and hackers have always altered their techniques as technology changes.”

But, he argues: “The fact that we can provide over-the-air updates is a security feature in itself, as it gives us the ability to respond and make changes.”

Carmakers know that consumer trust is crucial, so security it paramount. The big question is whether they are cleverer than the hackers.

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Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41367214

Ever fancied owning the Joker’s costume from Batman?

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Prop Store

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The Joker’s suit, as worn by Jack Nicholson, was up for sale

Some film memorabilia fetches millions of pounds at auction, but it can cost nothing to start a collection.

A life-size replica of the Joker, as played by Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film Batman, leers down from a podium. His plum-coloured suit is unmistakable in its sinister glory.

A few metres away, a mannequin sports a coral and maroon-hued cowboy outfit that looks like it’s seen better days.

It once belonged to fictional character Marty McFly and was worn by Michael J Fox in the 1990 film Back to the Future Part III.

It’s the day of the Prop Store’s memorabilia auction and at the BFI Imax cinema in London, some of the film world’s most recognisable props and costumes are on display ahead of a sale that afternoon.

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Prop Store

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A helmet worn by Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

Also up for grabs are model miniatures of the Los Angeles skyline used in the making of Blade Runner, the 1982 sci-fi classic.

And there’s a pair of Garth’s “tighty whities” underpants from the 1993 comedy Wayne’s World 2.

While some items will go on to fetch relatively modest sums, others, such as a helmet worn by Chris Pratt in recent superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy, will sell for more than £100,000.

So what is it that compels punters to spend a fortune on film props and costumes?

As chair of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Deborah Nadoolman-Landis is well placed to offer an opinion.

She’s been a costume designer for more than 40 years and her work on Coming to America, the 1988 comedy starring Eddie Murphy, secured her an Oscar nomination.

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Elizabeth Hotson

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Deborah Nadoolman-Landis designed the outfits for Raiders of the Lost Ark

In the industry, she’s affectionately known as the “Mother of Indiana Jones” for designing the outfits worn in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“People are supposed to fall in love with the people on screen and when you fall in love with Indiana Jones you want something from the character. Memorabilia is an extension of falling in love with the film.”

It doesn’t stop at cinema, she adds. Ms Nadoolman-Landis also designed the costumes for Michael Jackson’s 1983 Thriller music video, which “everyone was obsessed with” at the time.

“Michael’s red jacket ended up being sold for $1.2m (£900,000),” she says.

But not everything in the world of memorabilia costs the earth, says Jon Baddeley, head of Bonhams auction house in the UK.

Granted, Bonhams New York sold the piano from the film Casablanca for $3.4m, and Mr Baddeley hopes to sell a Robby the Robot prop, used in the 1956 classic Forbidden Planet, for seven figures at an upcoming auction.

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Bonhams New York sold the piano from Casablanca for $3.4m

But he says it is quite possible to start a memorabilia collection for free.

“The film posters and lobby cards made to advertise films in cinemas often get thrown away. So why not make friends with your cinema manager and ask for posters or cut-outs when you see a film you like?”

So could today’s rubbish be a future collector’s item?

An original poster for the 1933 monster adventure film King Kong can fetch around £70,000.

“Who knows?” says Mr Baddeley. “But remember, whatever you buy you’ve got to live with it. Have it framed and enjoy it. If it goes up in value you’ve got a double whammy, if not, you’ve still got something you enjoy.”

At the auction, Stephen Lane, the head of Prop Store, gives me a whistle-stop tour of the day’s top lots.

He won’t be giving anything away for free but says that, in amongst the stratospherically expensive nuggets of movie gold, there are some very affordable items.

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Prop Store

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A creature costume from Aliens was sold for £50,000

“The lots start at £40 to £60. For that you’d be buying crew items or gifts, things like call sheets which were used in the production. It might not be quite as personal but it’s still something from your favourite film.”

That’s good news for first-time auction visitor and Blade Runner fan, Chris Dagger.

“I don’t have a big budget, the most I can spend is around £500,” concedes Mr Dagger. “I’ve got my eye on the Blade Runner crew jacket. I’ve always been a fan of the film and with the new one coming out, I’d love to buy it.”

The jacket in question is dark maroon satin with the name “Tim” stitched onto the front.

More stories from the BBC’s Business Brain series looking at interesting business topics from around the world:

The firms that donate as many goods as they sell

How do you like your wine – with a cork or screw-cap?

Are changeable heels the end to women’s sore feet?

Do the colours you wear at work matter?

“I don’t have much chance of getting it,” says Mr Dagger. “There are people here with a lot of money to spend, a lot more than I’ve got, but we’ll see.”

In the imposing auditorium of the BFI Imax the auction gets underway. Things don’t look good for Chris.

A single grey T-shirt, embossed with “Peace through superior firepower”, which was worn in the film Aliens, is sold for £3,000. And a full alien creature costume from the same film fetches £50,000.

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Elizabeth Hotson

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Chris Dagger bid for a Blade Runner crew jacket

Chris holds his number “26” bidding card nervously, waiting for his lot to be called.

The auctioneer announces a starting bid of £250, and within seconds Mr Dagger is pushed to his maximum bid of £500 for the Blade Runner jacket.

There are no further bids in the auditorium, but there’s an agonising wait as the auctioneer checks whether other offers have come in by phone or email.

None have, and to his delight and astonishment, Mr Dagger gets what he came for.

Out in the refreshment area, he takes a couple of deep breaths and poses for photos next to a poster for Blade Runner 2049, the film’s soon-to-be released sequel.

“It’s such an iconic film and if you’re a fan you know all the trials and tribulations they went through to make it.

“And here we are, surrounded by posters for the current film. I’m just really happy, there’s not much more I can say.”

With the 22% buyer’s premium, VAT and shipping charges, the final bill is £700, which doesn’t make the jacket a cheap purchase.

But Chris says it was definitely worth it.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41467963

Modernising female voice for Qatar

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Sheikha Hind represents a young, modern face for the blockaded Qatari ruling family

If the personal is political, then Sheikha Hind, a senior member of Qatar’s ruling royal family, gives a very direct answer to her views on the end of the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia.

“I have two asthmatic boys and when you need to take them in an emergency at 02:00 – and your husband is on a business trip… We’re talking about safety.”

“It’s a great decision,” she says, as a parent as well as a driver, distancing herself from any suggestion that women should not have equal rights in such matters.

Sheikha Hind, 33, is the sister of the ruler of the wealthy state of Qatar – a country currently at the centre of a tense blockade and Middle Eastern power struggle.

If Qatar’s neighbours want to isolate the country, Sheikha Hind is on a mission to reach out and present a distinctly modern, young and female face to the outside world.

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Adrian Haddad

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Almost two-thirds of students in Qatar are women

“When the blockade happened we were all shocked. We didn’t see it coming.”

And, speaking in London, she says she wants to counter perceptions of her country being an “ultra-conservative” Muslim state.

Her own background is determinedly international, having been a student at Duke University in the United States and at University College London in the UK.

This exposed her to some of the narrow views held by young Westerners about the Arab world.

“When I was in America, I got a comment that I thought you lived in tents,” she says.

“What I’d like people to understand is that we’re as normal as you are.

“We might have different traditions and cultures, but that doesn’t make us very different. We all want highly educated citizens. We all want to have opportunities for every single person in our country.”

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Qatar has a policy of investing in education for a future “knowledge economy”

Education has been a big deal for Qatar – including pouring huge amounts into building a campus for eight international and two Qatari universities.

Sheikha Hind is now chief executive of the Qatar Foundation, the vehicle created almost 20 years ago for an epic-scale investment in education.

It has the hard-headed ambition of turning Qatar into a “knowledge economy” built on a well-educated workforce – ready for when the income from gas and oil runs out.

“In the end, we’re a very small country. If we can make sure that the majority of our residents are educated so that they can be active citizens, then we’ll be satisfied. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve started.”

But education is about asking difficult questions. For instance, can students discuss the merits of democracy over an autocracy?

“I’m sure they have those debates,” she says.

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Getty Images

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The Gulf state of Qatar has been transformed by the income from gas and oil

“That’s something we teach our students. You think for yourself, you listen to every side of an argument. We support that approach.”

“We have academic freedom in our campus and that encourages dialogue and any topic or issue,” she says.

Although she adds that in defining “democracy”, there is a wide “spectrum” of meanings.

In terms of women’s access to education, she says that 65% of students in Qatar are women – and the current challenge is to recruit more men into higher education.

She is from a line of strong women – daughter of the Sheikha Moza, mother of the current ruler and often described as one of the most influential women in the Middle East.

Growing up in the centre of the country’s ruling family, she says “work and personal life are not really divided”.

She is part of the next generation of Qatar’s royal family, redefining the next stage of the country’s development.

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Education Above All

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Education Above All has been supporting education for refugees in Lebanon

This will mean investing even more in education – and finding better ways to motivate wealthy young people who have grown up without any hardship to spur them on.

Sheikha Hind says she is looking to develop different types of school to raise standards and to tackle the problem of motivation.

The blockade has so far not stopped one of Qatar’s biggest below-the-radar exports – education to some of the world’s poorest countries and out-of-school refugees.

Although Qatar has high profile “soft power” projects, not least hosting the World Cup, its extensive funding for education, including under the Education Above All banner, has often been curiously hidden away.

“It’s a very cultural thing. It’s also rooted in Islam. If you donate money, you don’t put your name on it,” she said.

“We’re not very good at taking credit. It’s something that we’ll have to change and we’ll have to talk about it,” said Sheikha Hind.

As with so many parts of this question of Qatar’s identity, she says “the perception is very different from the reality”.

More from Global education

Ideas for the Global education series? Get in touch.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41470332

US business schools ‘hurt by Trump immigration policies’

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Nottingham Business School

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Nottingham Business School – part of Nottingham Trent University – has seen international student applicants increase by 25%

Mention Nottingham in a conversation and for many people the first thing that comes to mind is Robin Hood.

I’ve had the Disney movie song “Robin Hood and Little John walking through the forest…” stuck in my head since visiting the city.

But the story being told here today is very different from the fable of old.

Instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, it’s students hoping to get rich who are flocking to this city two hours north of London.

Nottingham Business School – which is part of Nottingham Trent University – has seen a 25% rise in interest from international students this year.

That’s believed to be partially due to an unlikely source: Donald Trump.

While many Americans might have voted for the president partly because they valued his business acumen, an unlikely casualty of his immigration policies is said to be American business schools.

‘Exaggerated’ shift

“One of the things we noticed post the [presidential] election in the US last November was a change in students’ expressed intent to study in the US,” says Sangeet Chowfla, the president and chief executive of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

The GMAC is the non-profit organisation that administers the GMAT, a standardised test most students around the world take to get into business school.

It published a survey of 1,000 global business schools this month, which found that international student interest in American business schools had declined by nearly two-thirds since the 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile, international student interest in programs in Canada, for example, has increased by nearly the same amount. The same goes for programs in continental Europe and the UK.

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GMAC

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International students have said the US election result impacted their application decision

While that trend has been happening for some time, Mr Chowfla says he was surprised by the steep drop.

“The magnitude of the change was exaggerated this year,” he says.

Part of the decline was due to student concerns about immigration policies – most notably, the ability to get an H1B visa after graduating.

The H1B is typically given to “skilled” immigrants to the US, like computer programmers, and 85,000 visas are awarded each year via a lottery system.

It is often used by companies in Silicon Valley to bring in tech talent – but it has also been used by outsourcing companies.

Critics, including President Trump, have said those companies use the program to hire foreign workers instead of Americans – and he’s proposed reforming it.

That’s scared international students, particularly those pursuing business degrees, who use the programs as stepping stones to better or more well-paid careers.

A global degree

While the number of foreign business students in the US may be declining, for many American students, business remains a global enterprise.

Monica Kelly is one of those students. Though she hails from Seattle, Washington, she’s spent most of her career in Los Angeles.

“I was in a position where I reached senior management level and I was looking for a way to expand my global opportunities,” she says.

Monica decided that in order to seize those opportunities, she had to go abroad for business school. That’s how she found herself at Nottingham.

And she’s not alone.

At Nottingham, I spoke with two other students from India, and the program boasts a class made up of people from 104 countries.

Almost all of them said business was an increasingly global endeavour. Because of that, they fretted they wouldn’t be able to get international experience in the US, a country they feel has increasingly turned inwards.

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David Baird

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NBS Dean Baback Yazdani said UK business schools suffered 5 years ago after new visa restrictions were introduced

That they’re attracted to a business school in the UK, however, is no accident.

“In the UK, we have gone through a period where the MBA [the main business school qualification] suffered quite a bit,” says Baback Yazdani, the dean of Nottingham Business School.

That was partially due to visa restrictions that were put in place five years ago, which limited the ability for graduate students to get post-study work visas.

Since then, Nottingham has worked hard to build its program around “experiential learning” – meaning that in addition to traditional classes, students travel abroad to work for companies in places like Italy and Rome.

The school also focused on helping students secure internships at companies that might sponsor them for visas, or that might be able to hire them in other parts of the world. Businesses close to Nottingham include Boots, which has merged with the pharmacy chain Walgreens in the US.

“Overall the MBAs are a saturated market – and it’s a global market,” says Mr Yazdani. “There are very sophisticated consumers for this market. So they know what they want and they know it’s everywhere. So they are looking for differentiators and value.”

Speaking of value – at an annual price of £16,500, or around $22,000 at today’s exchange rates – the Nottingham program is under half what most students at US business schools end up paying per year.

Lessons for the US?

Today, there are more than 5,000 students in its various business degree courses.

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Nottingham is known for Robin Hood, who hid out in nearby Sherwood forest

Nottingham’s administration says that their pivot could possibly help US schools.

“My guess is that’s probably happening now in the [US], and that the universities [there] will be going through the same trajectories,” says Nottingham Business School lecturer Phil Considine.

“We’re kind of five years ahead of them.”

In Nottingham’s atrium, banners are strung from the rafters welcoming international students, who start classes today.

Looking out through the school’s windows, you can see the beginning of the famed Sherwood Forest – where story has it Robin Hood hid out with his merry men.

For US business schools, who might not be feeling too merry, “stealing” a lesson from Nottingham might be a good way to make it through leaner times.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41447884

Why big brand perfumes may be losing their allure

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Gallivant

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Nick Steward is the founder of Gallivant fragrances

Corporate giants such as Estee Lauder, L’Oreal and Coty have dominated the fragrance market, but could that be about to change?

“Everything smells the same – people are getting bored of the big brands and want something different,” says Nick Steward, the London-based founder of a new fragrance brand, Gallivant.

He is convinced that there is a growing appetite for “something more personal that other people don’t have”.

Mr Steward decided to start his own company after several years as creative director of the trendy Paris house L’Artisan Parfumeur.

“I wanted to do something clever and interesting, avoiding all the froth, focused on the best materials,” he says.

He now sells his fragrances online and via specialist retailers in the US, Italy, Germany and as far away as Australia.

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Gallivant

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Gallivant fragrances are smaller than the standard industry size

The Gallivant range of unisex fragrances are inspired by and named after cities such as Tel Aviv and London.

They are packaged in air-travel-friendly 30ml bottles – smaller than the standard industry sizes.

Mr Steward says that also makes them more affordable, reflecting consumers’ desire to have a variety of fragrances to choose from.

Reception from both consumers and retailers has been positive since the launch earlier this year, but he admits the road to profitability will be a challenge: “It’s a really tough business to make money in.”

He is seeking a slice of the fragrance market – worth about $27bn (£20bn; €22bn) a year globally – but it is dominated by corporate giants such as Estee Lauder, L’Oreal and Coty.

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Chanel

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Chanel’s latest campaign stars Kristen Stewart

These firms spend tens of millions of dollars a year in a bid to make their fragrances seem impossibly alluring to consumers, using celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, star of the latest Chanel campaign, or Charlize Theron, who features in ads for Dior J’Adore.

Seeing glamorous ads on TV, in the cinema or in magazines means consumers are more likely to try, if not buy, one of the hundreds of perfumes on the market.

Despite the daunting competition, Michael Edwards, publisher of global perfume database Fragrances of the World, says some consumers are favouring niche and artisan fragrance brands like Gallivant because they offer something special that none of their friends will have.

He believes that innovation in the sector is coming from smaller brands because the big players are afraid of taking risks.

The big brands want a new launch to appeal to as wide a range of consumers as possible, meaning they often produce something “bland”, he says.

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Getty Images

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Coty, behind brands including Gucci Bloom, reported a loss in August

“The future lies in bespoke – younger people want something of their own. While marketing is crucial, word of mouth is even more crucial,” says Mr Edwards.

The fact that some of the bigger names in the industry are struggling suggests he may be right.

Even Coty – the New York beauty brand behind famous names such as Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Chloe – has faced headwinds this year.

In August, it reported a surprise quarterly loss that was partly blamed on “materially” higher marketing costs for the launch of new fragrances, including Gucci Bloom and Hugo Boss Tonic.

L’Oreal, which sells fragrances under brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren and Diesel, also reported disappointing sales and profits for its most recent quarter.

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Mike Masoni

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Michael Edwards founded the Fragrances of the World guide

But Roshida Khanom, an analyst at market research firm Mintel, says the industry giants are not taking the threat from upstart rivals lying down.

Chanel, one of the world’s most well known perfume makers, has revamped its range, launching No5 L’Eau in time for the Christmas rush last year.

The new version of Chanel’s classic fragrance – aimed squarely at younger generations – helped boost sales of the No5 range by a fifth.

At the same time, the French company also launched its first new fragrance in 15 years last month, Gabrielle, with a big-budget ad campaign.

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Getty Images

What do people want from a perfume?

The experience of wearing the fragrance – not the bottle or the packaging – is still the most important thing for consumers, says Michael Edwards, publisher of global perfume database, Fragrances of the World.

Most people want a scent that is “pretty easy to like”, he says.

A fragrance has to entice at first sniff with a compelling “top note”, and convince the buyer that it will linger sufficiently long on his or her skin.

Above all else, he says: “It must make the wearer feel special.”

Retailers will be hoping that the launch will help return the fragrance sector to modest growth in the UK after two years of what Ms Khanom calls “disappointing sales”.

Mintel estimates UK sales will be worth about £1.5bn this year, making it the fifth-biggest market globally behind Brazil, the US, Russia and France.

As with other retail sectors, she says one of the problems is savvy consumers who try out products in a physical store but then go online to buy it for less.

Manufacturers are spending more on the bottle and packaging, as well as marketing, in a bid to get consumers to buy their fragrances.

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Getty Images

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Some consumers think celebrity fragrances are “tacky”

But the power of another popular trick – releasing a fragrance emblazoned with the name of a celebrity, such as Britney Spears, Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez – appears to be waning.

Mintel says that a third of consumers describe this approach as tacky.

“Celebrity fragrances are just not aspirational in the way they used to be,” says Ms Khanom.

Of course, for Gallivant’s Mr Steward this is good news.

But while some Gallivant buyers want it to remain a tiny brand only they know about for “bragging rights”, Mr Steward says that is not sustainable.

“I can’t live just selling five bottles a year.”

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41339121

Monarch’s rise and fall charts British holiday trends

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Globus

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Monarch was originally part of Globus – which pioneered package holiday tours

Monarch, which has just gone into bankruptcy, was part of a travel group whose origins reach back 90 years, long before the days of mass air travel.

Through the heady 1970s and 80s, when foreign package holidays were the height of fashion, to the new era of relentless competition from budget airlines, Monarch still plied the skies.

But by 2017 fierce competition had made the business untenable.

And on 2 October it ceased operating.

A history of Monarch

In 1928 an enterprising young Swiss Italian, Antonio Mantegazza, spotted a gap in the market.

He realised tourists visiting his idyllic corner of Europe might pay to be ferried across Lake Lugano. So he bought a gondola and launched a tourism business that would eventually become travel giant Globus.

Forty years later in 1968 the Mantegazza family spotted a new way to ferry tourists their way. They decided to back a new airline being founded by British businessmen, Bill Hodgson and Don Peacock, that would bring British holidaymakers to Europe’s beauty spots.

Monarch was launched with just two planes operating from a hangar at Luton Airport, and a new era of package holidays took off.

Bill Hodgson’s daughter, Mary-Anne Hardie, remembers the airline in those days as “one big happy family”. While her father was managing director, her mother designed the first uniforms for cabin crew, in canary yellow. The family tested the in-flight meals at dinner time at home.

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MOnarch

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Monarch introduced the British public to the affordable package holiday

By the 1970s package holidays had really taken off. Brits embraced the chance to take an exotic continental break instead of shivering with a thermos flask in Skegness.

Monarch was aimed, not at the wealthy, but at ordinary families: “The man who came home on a Friday and put money in a jam jar to save for a summer holiday,” says Ms Hardie.

In those days flying felt like a luxury, with coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and free drinks on the menu.

But times were anything but easy. The oil price spike of the early seventies sent another big name in package holidays, Court Line, into administration.

Monarch might have gone under too; Miss Hardie remembers her father being “very stressed”.

But the attitude in the industry was of mutual support says Ms Hardie, “not as cut-throat as it is now” and Monarch survived. It even took on some of Court Line’s redundant staff.

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Getty Images

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Package holidays to the Med have become a summer staple for many British families

In the 1980s, while package holidays remained popular, there was a growing market for independent travel, with holiday-makers opting to mix and match their own flights and hotels.

Monarch responded by offering its first scheduled flights from Luton to Minorca in 1985. From then on it was competing directly with other carriers, not just as part of a tour operator.

Mr Hodgson had retired by then, one of his few regrets being that he’d bought the BAC 1-11 aircraft, that were so much noisier than the Boeing 720 “whispering giants” he’d bought before, says his daughter.

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Getty Images

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Benidorm became one of Spain’s most popular resorts for British visitors

In 1995 newly founded low-cost airline easyJet set up its own base alongside Monarch in Luton and the budget airline industry grew rapidly, taking couples on weekend citybreaks, stag and hen parties to ever more exotic destinations, to ski resorts in winter, the beach in summer.

“With the low cost airlines it was easier to book direct; that’s when Monarch started to struggle really,” says Ms Hardie.

The focus moved away from customer service towards those who offered the cheapest fare.

For a while there was room for everyone. And by the time of the financial crisis in 2008 Monarch had 32 aircraft flying to over 100 destinations in India, Africa, Caribbean, United States and Europe.

But it couldn’t last.

“The competition was relentless. It was expanding. It had very deep pockets even back when I was running Monarch seven or eight years ago,” recalls Tim Jeans, the firm’s former managing director.

“There were warning signs then and I think subsequently the market has only got more difficult.

“Competition is all fair and normally very, very good for consumers, but ultimately competition can be unsustainable. And the demise of Monarch is a direct result of that,” Mr Jeans says.

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Gareth Cattermole

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In 2007 Monarch teamed up with record label Hed Kandi to offer less family-oriented holidays to Ibiza

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Getty Images

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Monarch’s Managing Director at the time was Tim Jeans (L)

In 2011 the Arab Spring pushed up oil prices once again. Over several years the Mantegazza family poured money in to patch up Monarch’s balance sheet.

But finally with a gaping deficit in the company’s pension plan, in 2014, the family had had enough. They put a final £50m into the company they had owned for half a century, and sold it on to turnaround specialists Greybull Capital.

The company abandoned long haul routes and 700 jobs were cut. It turned out to be only a temporary reprieve. Even a hefty investment from Greybull wasn’t enough to bring Monarch up to fighting weight to take on the budget carriers.

Terrorist attacks in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia, the migrant crisis in southern Europe and more recently the weakness of the pound following the EU referendum vote have all kept UK holiday-makers away from some of Monarch’s most popular destinations.

On 2 October 2017 the airline’s accountants KPMG announced the business would close and authorities launched the biggest peacetime repatriation of Brits to bring Monarch’s last 110,000 passengers home.

But the airline itself has run out of runway.

Source : [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41471291