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Double the usual number of flights to the UK are due to leave Portugal as holidaymakers scramble to leave on the last day before the country moves to the amber travel list.

Thirty-nine flights were due to depart from Faro Airport in the Algarve for the UK on Monday, nearly twice as many as are scheduled on a normal day.

Travellers must arrive in the UK before 4am on Tuesday or they will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days due to a government decision to remove Portugal from its COVID green travel list.

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People wait in queues at Faro airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Faro, Portugal, June 6, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes
Faro airport had double the normal number of UK flights

Tourists hoping to beat the deadline are being hit by a combination of many flights being sold out, and the handful of available seats being sold at inflated prices.

Ryanair is charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday, but just £17 on Wednesday.

EasyJet flights from Faro to Gatwick are £227 on Monday and £53 on Tuesday.

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Tourists in the Algarve have also reported difficulties obtaining the pre-departure tests required by the government for people arriving in the UK.

Many holidaymakers and travel firms expressed anger when the announcement on Portugal was made last Thursday, as it came just 17 days after the ban on international leisure travel was lifted.

Portuguese authorities also questioned why the UK switched the popular holiday destination from its travel green list to amber, saying they could not “understand the logic”.

People wait in queues at Faro airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Faro, Portugal, June 6, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes
Many tourists have expressed anger over the changes

The Department for Transport, however, maintained the situation in the country “required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout”.

It said the positivity rate for coronavirus tests in Portugal had nearly doubled since the travel lists were first created four weeks earlier.

Separate Test and Trace figures show that of 200 arrivals from Portugal who were tested between 6 May and 19 May, three were positive for COVID-19.

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Tesco sees food sales grow as inflation eases




Tesco says it has recorded a “strong” rise in retail sales in the latest quarter – buoyed by easing inflation.

The UK’s largest supermarket also said its market share was growing at its fastest rate than at any time in the last two years.

The grocery giant reported sales grew across the group, including Ireland, by 3.4% to £15.3bn in the 13 weeks to 25 May, compared with the same period last year.

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Its performance was even stronger at home – its UK market seeing a rise of 4.6% to £11.4bn.

This came on the back of a 5% increase in food sales, with high demand for fresh produce helping to drive higher sales volumes.

Sales of Tesco Finest products also grew “strongly” amid demand by shoppers for premium products.

The firm’s market share rose by more than 50 basis points to 27.6% in the 12 weeks to 12 May year on year, according to market researcher Kantar.

Tesco highlighted its strategy of matching the prices of discounter Aldi on key items and its clubcard loyalty scheme, which provides lower prices for members.

These initiatives are being funded by reducing business costs, with a further £500m of savings targeted for 2024/25.

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With sales trends in line with expectations, Tesco said it expects to deliver an operating profit of at least £2.8bn for the current financial year, holding its target set in April.

‘Strong volume growth’

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said: “We’ve continued to build momentum in the business, with strong volume growth across the UK, Republic of Ireland and central Europe supported by easing inflation.”

He added: “Our market share reflects this, growing more than at any other time in the past two years, with customers switching to us from other retailers, shopping with us more often and with more in their baskets.”

The results announcement came ahead of the retailer’s annual general meeting, where Mr Murphy was expected to face scrutiny after receiving a £9.93m pay package for the past year.

It compared with a £4.44m total pay deal for the previous financial year and means the boss has been paid 431 times the wage of the average Tesco worker – £23,010.

Mr Murphy said: “I absolutely accept that I’m well paid.”

Following the trading update, Mr Murphy also said he was “not unduly worried” by the Labour Party’s plan to introduce a new package of workers’ rights if it wins next month’s election.

Tesco has about 270,000 UK employees, making it Britain’s biggest private sector employer.

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Referring to the opposition’s new deal for working people, which includes banning zero hours contracts and ending “fire and rehire”, Mr Murphy said: “Many of the measures outlined in proposed legislation we’re already ahead of. We don’t have any minimum hour contracts, for example, in our business. So I’m not unduly worried.”

Workers’ rights

Mr Murphy said plans that protect the rights of workers “is a good thing”, but argued they also needed to bolster productivity, economic growth and jobs.

“We will of course support the government in achieving those three things. Getting that balance right is always the key,” he added.

Regardless of which party wins the election, Tesco wants “stability and consistency” because it would “allow businesses to plan and to invest”, he said.

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Tesla shareholders approve Elon Musk’s $56bn pay package




Tesla shareholders approve Elon Musk's huge pay package

Tesla shareholders have approved Elon Musk’s $56bn (£44bn) pay package.

The proposal passed despite opposition from some large institutional investors and proxy firms.

Onstage at the annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas, the billionaire described himself as “pathologically optimistic”.

“If I wasn’t optimistic this wouldn’t exist, this factory wouldn’t exist,” Musk said to resounding applause.

“But I do deliver in the end. That’s the important thing.”

The approval does not, however, resolve a lawsuit on the pay package in a Delaware court, which some legal experts believe could last months.

The judge invalidated it in January, describing it as “unfathomable”.

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Musk may also face fresh lawsuits on the deal, which would be the largest in American corporate history.

Shareholders had first approved the bumper pay packet in 2018.

“This thing is not over,” said Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College Law School.

The Delaware judge will scrutinise the vote and require Tesla to prove the process was not coerced or improperly influenced by Musk, Professor Quinn said.

A general view of the Tesla gigafactory in Austin, Texas, U.S., February 28, 2023. REUTERS/Go Nakamura
A general view of the Tesla gigafactory in Austin, Texas, U.S., February 28, 2023 Pic: Reuters

The judge had criticised Tesla’s board fore being “beholden” to Musk, saying the plan was proposed by a “conflicted board” with “close personal and financial ties” to its top executive.

Shareholders also approved a proposal to move the company’s legal home to Texas from Delaware.

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They also backed other proposals, including the re-election of two board members, Musk’s brother Kimbal Musk and James Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Shareholders did increase the level of investor control by passing proposals in favour of shortening board terms to one year and lowering voting requirements for proposals to a simple majority, despite board opposition to both.

Tesla did not disclose the voting tallies, which are expected to be revealed in coming days.

At least a half-million viewers watched the meeting on the livestream on X, which Musk also owns, and about 40,000 watched on YouTube.

Tesla’s share price has dropped about 55% from its 2021 peak as electric vehicle sales have slowed.

The stock closed up 2.9% on Thursday.

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Wizz Air ranked worst airline for delays for third year running




Wizz Air ranked worst airline for delays for third year running

Wizz Air has been ranked the worst airline for UK flight delays for the third year running as passengers were landed with a fare hike.

The low-cost operator’s departures from UK airports were behind schedule by an average of 31 minutes and 36 seconds in 2023, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency.

Turkish Airlines recorded the second worst punctuality last year, with an average delay of 28 minutes and 36 seconds.

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Wizz Air said it has made “significant improvements” but acknowledged there is “still work to be done”.

The analysis covered all scheduled and chartered departures from UK airports by airlines operating more than 2,500 flights. Cancelled flights were not included.

The next worst airlines for delays were:

Tui – 28 minutes and 24 seconds
Air India – 28 minutes and 12 seconds
Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines – 25 minutes and six seconds
Air Portugal – 23 minutes 48 seconds
Vueling – 23 minutes six seconds
Swiss – 22 minutes 48 seconds
Air Canada – 22 minutes six seconds
BA – 21 minutes 36 seconds

Consumer group Which? said airline passengers are in the “outrageous position” of paying record air fares for “unreliable services”.

Irish carrier Emerald Airlines recorded the best performance last year with an average delay of just 13 minutes and six seconds, with Virgin Atlantic in second place at 13 minutes and 42 seconds.

The average delay for all flights was 20 minutes and 42 seconds, down from 23 minutes in 2022.

Wizz Air’s UK operations serve Aberdeen, Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Luton airports.

Despite its poor UK punctuality, the airline – which operates in Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and other parts of Asia – saw passenger numbers reach a record 62 million in the year to the end of March – up by more than a fifth on the total of 51.1 million in the previous 12 months.

Over the same period, Wizz Air recorded a pre-tax profit of €341.1m (£290.4m), as its revenue from ticket sales per available seat rose by 11.2% year-on-year, which was similar to fare rises across the airline sector.

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Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “These latest delay figures will come as no surprise to travellers, who find themselves in the outrageous position of paying record amounts for air fares and in return receiving unreliable services.”

He added: “It’s time for airlines to get their act together and start delivering the service their customers are paying for – including ensuring they’re investing properly in their customer service teams.

“When delays and cancellations do occur, there can be no justification for airlines failing to meet their legal obligations – including promptly refunding or rerouting customers, and ensuring they are offered meals and accommodation as required.”

‘Extraordinary operating challenges’

Wizz Air was ranked the worst airline for passenger satisfaction in an annual report by Which? published in February, with survey respondents awarding it an average of one star out of a possible five for customer service and seat comfort.

A Wizz Air spokeswoman said: “In 2022, like all airlines in Europe, Wizz Air experienced extraordinary operating challenges driven mostly by the external environment.

“Since then, we have invested more than £90m to stabilise operations, reduce the number of delays and provide a better experience for customers.

“While we saw significant improvements in 2023, there was still work to be done.

“Helping our customers reach their destination is our number one priority and we will continue to invest in our service to ensure they get there on time.”

She added the airline’s current performance is “among the strongest in the entire industry”, with a punctuality record that is “the highest among our direct competitors” and “the best flight completion rate in the whole of Europe”.

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Enforcement action

In January, the CAA said its enforcement action against Wizz Air led to the airline paying a total of £1.2m to UK-based passengers whose financial claims were reassessed after initially being rejected.

This included payments of money owed for expenses such as replacement flights, food and hotel rooms during disruption.

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK, a body representing airlines operating in the UK, described 2023 as “an extremely challenging year, particularly over the summer”.

He said many delays were caused by factors outside of carriers’ control, such as air traffic control disruption including strikes in France and the National Air Traffic Services meltdown on 28 August which grounded flights across UK airports.

He added punctuality had “continued to exponentially improve” this year.

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