Economist 5/13/14

  1. Atlasjet, Turkish Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines and Latvia’s Air Baltic all suspended flights to the Crimean peninsula. So too, eventually, did Ukraine’s flag-carrier, Ukraine International Airlines. Russian carriers are now replacing them, taking advantage of not only the political uncertainty gripping the region, but also a lingering dispute over who controls Crimean airspace. Aeroflot has led the charge. The flag-carrier will double its Moscow-Simferopol service to eight times daily in June. Rossiya, its St Petersburg-based subsidiary, will add a third daily flight.The status of Crimean airspace remains disputed. According to ICAO, the UN’s aviation agency, Ukraine retains the exclusive right to provide air navigation services over the Simferopol flight information region (FIR). But Russia has seized radio frequencies used by the Ukrainian Area Control Centres in Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk.Two of the three largest airlines in Ukraine are Russian-owned companies.The first sign of a clampdown came in March, when Russia’s foreign ministry complained that Aeroflot pilots and cabin crew were being denied entry to Ukraine after landing. Across the two months, 219 Aeroflot passengers were denied entry to Ukraine.  Aeroflot has already reduced frequencies to Kiev and Odessa. Transaero has scaled back its Kiev service, citing “decreasing passenger demand”.
  2. The genius of Lorenzo Zambrano, who died unexpectedly in Madrid on May 12th, aged 70, was to turn Cemex into a name knownand respectedaround the world.In a 15-year blitzkrieg of acquisitions that started with Spain’s two largest cement companies in 1992, he bought rivals in North and South America, the Philippines, Britain and Australia. He muscled into a global cement triumvirate alongside Lafarge of France and Holcim of Switzerland, even though as an “emerging market” company, Cemex had more difficulties raising funds for its conquests.
  3. TO JUDGE by national averages, Belarus, Moldova and Russia are the biggest drinkers in the world, quaffing between 15 to 18 litres per adult annually, according to the World Health Organisation in a new reportWhen abstainers are excluded the national averages look extremely different. By this measure, it is in Africa, Asia and even the Middle East where actual drinkers quaff the most. In Chad almost nine in ten adults abstain, yet its 780,000 drinkers put away almost 34 litres of alcohol each.France drinks a lot, but because it has one of the lowest rate of abstainers at just 5%, it ranks 113th compared with 20th. Globally the world is drinking slightly more than in 2005 when figures were last compiled.
  4. The success of H Mart, an international supermarket chain based in New Jersey (the “H” in H Mart stands for Han Ah Reum, which means “one arm full of groceries” in Korean). The first H Mart opened in Queens, New York in 1982, as a corner shop. Now there are stores in 11 states, Canada and Britain. A new one recently opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an affluent city outside Boston.Americans have developed greater appetite for cooking and eating Asian foods, too. In 2012 non-restaurant sales of Asian foods topped $1.5 billion, according to Mintel Group, a market-research firm.. Many shops are located in minority enclaves, and do little to market themselves to other Americans. Other than H Mart, there are Californian chains such as 99 Ranch Market and Shun Fat Supermarket, which have been expanding into the American southwest.
  5.  Until recently, strict planning rules stopped big out-of-town shopping centres around the French capital. Most malls that existed, such as Vélizy 2 or Rosny 2, dated from the 1970s, when five new towns were built in the Paris suburbs. It also points to two features of French society that escape the gaze of historic Paris. One is most shoppers’ suburban way of life. Only 2.2m people live in Paris self. Yet the greater Paris region, excluding the city, counts over four times more inhabitants, many in small towns and car-dependent suburbs. The new malls, ringed by car parks, are handy, even alluring. Fully 62% of the French told one poll that malls were their favourite places to shop, ahead of the high street or traditional department stores.  The other trend is the global taste of consumers. Besides a huge French hypermarket, Qwartz’s big pull is Primark, an Irish cheap-fashion retailer, and Marks & Spencer, a British chain.

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