Europe’s COVID setbacks risk another summer travel washout

Breadcrumb Trail Links PMN Business Author of the article: Reuters Sarah Young and Laurence Frost Publishing date: Mar 19, 2021  •  10 minutes ago  •  3 minute read  •  Join the conversation Article content LONDON/PARIS — Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carrier lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings. As well as new lockdowns, the summer outlook has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere and a damaging suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries, over health fears rejected by the European Medicines Agency. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes. But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious. “MAJOR HIT” “There’s a risk of an increased number of bankruptcies particularly between now and the end of the year,” Alexandre de Juniac, head of global airline body IATA, told Reuters. The latest whiplash in recovery sentiment extends from airlines into hospitality industries and the broader economy, penalizing tourism-dependent Mediterranean countries. “Virus numbers are going up, the vaccine rollout is falling behind and there is a risk that Europe could lose a second summer,” Morgan Stanley economist Jacob Nell said, predicting a “major hit to the southern economies.” Advertisement Story continues below This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Article content Thanks to its faster progress on vaccinations, the UK outbound market has been seen as key to the coming European season. But rising European infection rates could threaten those plans too. Greece became Britain’s biggest source of imported cases when the countries opened a travel corridor last summer, according to an official UK study published this week. Instead, the faster pace of vaccinations in Britain and the United States could bring a transatlantic rebound – even flipping the conventional wisdom that short-haul will recover first. “These two countries are leading the G20,” with shots administered to 40% of the population in Britain and one-third in the United States, UBS aviation analyst Jarrod Castle said. “The North Atlantic could open up between (them) before other European markets, which would be greatly beneficial for British Airways.” ($1 = 0.8398 euros) (Reporting by Sarah Young and Laurence Frost; Additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin Editing by Susan Fenton) Share this article in your social network In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post. Top Stories Newsletter Sign up to receive the daily top stories from the Financial Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 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LEBRECHT LISTENS | We May Never See The Likes Of Krzysztof Penderecki Again

Krzysztof Penderecki: Credo (Hänssler Classics)★★★★☆🎧 Spotify | Apple Music | AmazonThe Polish composer died a year ago next week and still awaits a funeral. The constraints of COVID and the demands of family and friends for a state occasion have led to delays and deferrals, a sad coda to a life of service to God and man.Although acclaimed as a modernist, Penderecki never supped easily with the atheistic avant-garde and always lit up when opportunity arose to compose a work that celebrated his Roman Catholic faith. The Credo, co-commissioned in 1996 by Stuttgart’s Bach academy and the Oregon Bach Festival, is infused with a sense of liberation, a release from having to please anyone below the angels.It is richly textured and profusely melodic. There are passages which recall Stravinsky of the Symphony of Psalms and Maher’s Resurrection Symphony, but Penderecki does not look over his shoulder for long. He finds moments of memorable originality for five soloists — soprano Juliane Banse, bass Thomas Quasthoff, tenor Thomas Randle and mezzos Marietta Simpson and Milagro Vargas — keeping them fresh for a huge apotheosis with the Oregon orchestra and chorus, conducted by Helmut Rilling. The climaxes are sensational, some of the strongest music Penderecki ever created. This live recording of the Oregon premiere takes us back to a time when a remote American campus festival was ambitious enough to engage with the best living composers. We may never see its like again.To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all) Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all)

Getting past James Levine’s brother Tom

The conductor Kenneth Woods has a chilling tale about the firewalls that protected James Levine from mere mortals.A friend of mine was, for a time, producer and engineer of the radio broadcasts of the orchestra at Verbier when Levine was conducting regularly there. As is the case with the broadcasts of most festivals and orchestras, where there is more than one performance, either the producer or a member of the musical staff (at the Cincinnati Symphony it was usually one of us on the junior conducting staff who had been in the audience for all the performances) will select what they think are the best options and run those by the maestro before the ‘broadcast performance’ is edited together.

The situation my friend found himself working with Levine in was truly bizarre. At the end of each run of performances he would go to the maestro’s office. There he would see Levine and his brother Tom. My friend was not allowed to speak to Levine directly, but would say to Tom something like “I thought the first movement was the best on Sunday and the other three better on Saturday.” Then Tom would turn to James Levine and say “_________ says “the first movement was the best on Sunday and the other three better on Saturday.””
Bear in mind, my friend is in the room.
Jimmy would then say to Tom “Tell ______ that I would like to use the first and last movements from Sunday and the two middle movements from Saturday.” After which, Tom would turn to my friend and say “Maestro Levine says to use the first and last movements from Sunday and the two middle movements from Saturday.” My friend would confirm to Tom that, of course, that was a far better selection. Those would, indeed, be the movements he would use. Tom would relay that to Levine, who would nod silently. After which, my friend would be dismissed. And this is how he treated one of the top Tonmeisters in Europe…
Read on here.

TV’s Battle of the Binge: Why the Wait Can Be Worth It

Streaming TV promised to free us from schedules, but series like “WandaVision” show that weekly rituals still have power.Disney+’s “WandaVision” began with a bold, disorienting move, taking viewers and depositing them without explanation into an unsettling bubble of 1950s television.I am referring, of course, to the show’s practice of releasing new episodes only once every week.Releasing TV installments on a schedule — “Same bat-time, same bat-channel,” as the show’s superhero predecessor “Batman” promised — was standard practice in the days of black-and-white TV, and still is on most traditional networks. But the age of Netflix has led accustomed streaming fans to getting full seasons all at once, and some WandaViewers did not care to wait for what an IndieWire review referred to as “inconvenient weekly installments.”“WandaVision” is not the first streaming show to face complaints for not feeding its audience on the all-you-can-eat plan. Last year, Eric Kripke, the showrunner of Amazon’s dystopian superhero drama “The Boys” defended the decision to release Season 2’s episodes weekly, against some fans’ objections, “to have time to sort of slow down a little bit and have conversations about everything.” (“The Boys” did release its first three episodes on its premiere date, “WandaVision” its first two; Disney is also following the weekly model with its latest Marvel series, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”)Slow down? We are not much of a slowdown society these days. If people can have something, they increasingly believe they should, in Costco-size portions, to be savored or swallowed anaconda-like as they see fit. Who the hell is anyone else to tell us to chew in between bites? We’ll — cough — we’ll chew when we feel like it!Fans’ increasing expectation of — and creators’ occasional pushback against — the binge model resonates with other tech-driven arguments over how art should properly be enjoyed. Should the audience or the artist decide how the work is best experienced? Are you violating the artistic intention of an album when you listen to it on shuffle? Are you a cretin for watching a movie on your phone when the director insisted it be viewed on a big screen?Certainly, advocates of “I want it all, now” can sound entitled, like kids on the Wonka factory tour grousing that the gobstoppers aren’t coming fast enough. But there can also be a kind of high-handedness to the defense of weekly airings, as if the communal watercooler ritual were somehow more authentic, and as if viewers needed to be guided toward the correct choice lest they, like children failing the marshmallow test, make the wrong one.Maybe a more useful way of looking at the weekly and binge models is that neither is inherently better. Instead, they’re one more set of storytelling tools — like shooting in front of a studio audience, or not — creatively suited to different kinds of stories.Release schedules, like many aspects of TV, are a case of the creative format following the business model. In the days of rabbit-ears TV, you watched a show when it was beamed at you or not at all. Weekly (or daily) schedules built habits and fan bases.Some fans objected to the weekly schedule of Amazon’s “The Boys,” but its creator said the slower cadence allowed for more conversation about the show.Jasper Savage/Amazon StudiosWhen Netflix entered the original-series business in the early teens, it could have followed some form of scheduling. Instead, dropping full seasons at once was a way of branding it as a forward-looking business — this ain’t your grandma’s TV! — and a way to find viewers where broadcast TV wasn’t. (By letting viewers watch at their leisure, Netflix laid claim to the vast stretches, like Fridays and Saturdays, when fans had a lot of time and less marquee scheduled programming.)For an era — well, a few years — this defined streaming TV. And the different formats led to different creative forms. Traditional TV serials broke stories into structured units with tune-in-next-time endings. Binge series are often looser in episode structure, sometimes to the extent that whole seasons can feel like extended “episodes.” (Or extended movies, like Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” whose season titles — “Stranger Things 2,” “Stranger Things 3”— recalled the film franchises that inspired the series.)Eventually some competitors, like Hulu, Apple and Disney, separated themselves from Netflix with old-school weekly schedules, at least for some series. And Disney+, with its first streaming phenomena, showed that the traditional TV schedule works best for shows that play like traditional TV, with tight episode construction and careful maintenance of suspense.Mystery, in particular, lends itself well to the waiting game. In “WandaVision,” part of the mystery was the show itself: What were these weekly “sitcoms,” really, and who was in charge? The effect wasn’t ruined by bingeing (I recently rewatched it with my wife, who caught up on it over a couple of days), but it really benefited from giving it a long-term lease in your head.Disney+’s “Star Wars” western, “The Mandalorian,” was a different sort of mystery. Each episode arrived with little information about what it was or where it was going. (The existence of its pint-size breakout star, Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, wasn’t even revealed until the end of the first episode.) Every installment dropped you into a new world, on a new adventure, without warning; it felt like watching a serial short before the main feature at an old-timey movie parlor.But “mystery” here doesn’t have to mean genre mystery. This was the case with “Mad Men,” whose creator, Matthew Weiner, has said, with justification, that it wouldn’t work released a full season at a time. Its artfully withholding storytelling and its willingness to drop the viewer in unexplained circumstances made watching feel like allowing yourself to be blindfolded and kidnapped once a week. (Of course, that hasn’t stopped bingers from mainlining it during the pandemic.)Bingeing, on the other hand, benefits certain kinds of immersive long-form TV that Netflix has gotten adept at: more straightforward mini-series, like “The Queen’s Gambit,” and the visual equivalent of page-turner novels, like “Bridgerton.” In some cases, a binge also helps gloss over weaknesses or repetitions that you might linger on with more time to dwell on them. (In general, I’m thinking of serial stories here; sitcoms, anthologies or procedurals with self-contained episodes feel less affected by the choice.)There are also business dimensions to the debate, in particular the argument that spreading a season over months can allow a show to build word of mouth and grow, whereas binge series just crash and recede, like a waves on an endless content ocean. But business and artistic choices are two different things.HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” for instance, might not have become the same mass phenomenon if it had dropped its seasons Netflix-style. But (unpopular opinion alert) it plays better as a binge. All those slow-rolling character arcs are clearer, the ending feels better foreshadowed — even Daenerys’s years wandering Essos don’t seem quite so interminable.“Game of Thrones” became a cultural phenomenon as a weekly show but might actually work better as a binge.HBO, via Associated PressNBC’s afterlife comedy “The Good Place,” likewise, always felt to me like a binge show trapped in weekly form, with the end of each episode igniting the story line of the next, in the chain-smoking fashion of so many Netflix shows.On the other hand, the first season of Amazon’s corporate mystery “Homecoming” might have built more suspense if it had been doled out over weeks. And on the other other hand, Apple TV+’s alternative space-race drama “For All Mankind,” a slow-burn of a series whose current season builds to two gripping final episodes, might have been better dropped all at once; I could see it losing viewers on the long, digressive journey before the payoff.Regardless, it’s good to see streaming platforms experimenting with their schedules; hopefully, they’re starting to see “To binge or not to binge?” as one creative choice among many. It made sense for Netflix to prove that the binge model could work, which unlocked a form of TV storytelling whose rules creators are still figuring out.But just because you can make TV a certain way now doesn’t mean you always should. Sometimes, good things come from those who make you wait.