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Virgin Orbit fails on first attempt to launch a rocket

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit failed Monday on its first attempt to launch a test satellite into space aboard a rocket carried aloft by a Boeing 747 and released over the Pacific Ocean off Southern California. The launch had appeared to be going well until moments after the rocket was dropped from beneath the left wing of the jumbo jet. There was no immediate word on what went wrong. The modified jet took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and flew out just beyond the Channel Islands, where the drop occurred. The rocket was supposed to fall for a few seconds before the first of its two stages ignited and hurtled it down the coast toward the South Pole for insertion of its demonstration payload into a low Earth orbit. The purpose was to gather data on every step of the launch process rather than to have a useful satellite in orbit. The launch attempt followed five years of development of the 70-foot LauncherOne rocket. Virgin Orbit, of Long Beach, Calif., is a sister company of Virgin Galactic, the company Branson founded to carry passengers on suborbital flights into space. It’s preparing to begin operations in New Mexico. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

German court ruling clears the way to settle VW diesel cases

A German court has ruled Volkswagen must buy back diesel cars it equipped with software that evaded emissions testing — but consumers must accept the current value of the car, based on the mileage driven, not the purchase price. That clears the way to settle the remaining consumer claims in Germany, VW said. The decision affects some 60,000 individual claims there; about 262,000 others have already been covered by a $904 million class-action settlement. Volkswagen attorney Martina de Lind Wijngaarden said the company would approach plaintiffs “as quickly as possible” to reach settlements. Volkswagen was caught cheating by US authorities in 2015 and has since paid more than 33 billion euros in fines and settlements worldwide. Two executives went to prison in the United States and more are facing criminal proceedings and investigations in Germany. Volkswagen still faces lawsuits from investors. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Germany approves $9.8b aid package for Lufthansa

Germany on Monday approved a 9 billion-euro ($9.8 billion) aid package for Lufthansa to keep a major employer going during the pandemic. But officials said Berlin was still in talks with the European Union’s executive commission about possible conditions. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the aid package is a “sustainable and reasonable” way to keep the airline flying. “We have also ensured that over 100,000 people need not live in fear of imminent loss of their jobs,’’ he said. Conditions include Lufthansa not paying a dividend, restricting management pay, and letting the government block an unwanted takeover. He said the government wasn’t planning to interfere in the business of running the airline and intended to sell its stake eventually. Altmaier said the government was in talks with the European Commission but declined to say what specifically was at issue. The aid package would need approval from shareholders. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Global trade volumes fall the most in more than a decade

Global trade took its biggest hit in more than a decade in March, when the pandemic began to take an increasingly heavy toll on businesses. World trade volumes fell 4.3 percent from a year earlier, the most since 2009, according to the World Trade Monitor. Month to month, they fell 1.4 percent for a third straight decline. The slump is only an initial sign of the damage from the lockdowns imposed to contain the coronavirus, and surveys have since shown a deep recession is underway. — BLOOMBERG NEWS