UK house prices rising more slowly

Annual house price growth in the UK slowed down in September, according to the latest figures from mortgage lender Nationwide.

Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland house prices rose by 5.3% year-on-year, compared with 5.6% in August.

Between August and September prices increased by just 0.3%, half the 0.6% rise in the previous month.

The average price of a house or flat in the UK is now £206,015.

Nationwide economist Robert Gardner noted that although demand for homes has fallen, there are fewer properties coming on to the market.

“The relative stability in the rate of house price growth suggests that the softening in housing demand evident in recent months has been broadly matched on the supply side of the market,” Gardner explained. “Survey data indicates that, while new buyer enquiries have remained fairly subdued, the number of homes on the market has remained close to all-time lows, in part due to low rates of construction activity.”

Gardner stressed that more homes are needed to meet the demand.

“The number of new homes built in England has picked up, but is still not sufficient to keep up with the expected increase in the population,” he said. “In the four quarters to Q2 2016, 139,000 new houses were completed, 30% higher than the low point seen in 2010. However, this is still around 15% below the average rate of building in the five years before the financial crisis and 38% below the 225,000 new households projected to form each year over the coming decade.”

Housebuilders have plenty of sites where they could begin construction, and they should have more confidence that people will want to buy any homes they build, Gardner added.

In response, the industry said there had already been a huge increase in supply and builders are preparing to deliver even more homes.

“Housebuilders have massively increased output over the past few years and continue to recruit the people and buy the land necessary to deliver even more desperately needed homes,” Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF), told the BBC.

“Reversing decades of under supply requires government to continue to implement pro-development policies and lenders to ensure buyers can get a mortgage,” Baseley said.

Competition authority to look at price comparison sites

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched a market study into price comparison websites to investigate how they generate a profit and whether the arrangements they make with suppliers might restrict competition.

The review, announced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Thursday, will also include other digital comparison tools such as smartphone apps.

Amongst other issues, the CMA will consider whether sites such as Compare the Market, Money Supermarket, Go Compare and Uswitch really do help consumers get the best deals.

The review will focus on four key issues:

1. What consumers expect from digital comparison tools (DCTs), how they use them and their experiences.

2. The impact of DCTs on competition between suppliers listed on them.

3. How effectively DCTs compete with each other.

4. The effectiveness of existing regulatory approaches to DCTs.

As part of the study, the regulator will explore the role of DCTs in the markets for broadband, home insurance, credit cards and flights.

Andrea Coscelli, acting chief executive of the CMA, commented:

“Digital comparison tools have played a big part in changing markets for the better, bringing new ways of doing things and forcing businesses to up their game. Consumers have benefited as choice and access to goods and services have grown.

“Since emerging a decade or so ago, such tools have helped to inject significant competition into a number of markets, including private motor insurance. They have made it easier for consumers to engage in many markets. However, they have been more successful in some sectors than others. We want to understand why this is the case and whether more can be done to ensure consumers and businesses can benefit from them more widely.

“Some people have also raised concerns about certain issues, including whether consumers can trust the information that’s available, and the study will look at these issues too.”

The review was welcomed by Citizens Advice, whose chief executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“Many people assume price comparison websites are independent and that when they use them they will be presented with the cheapest deal in the market – but this is not always the case. Many services take commission from the companies they display. We think it should be much more clear to consumers how these websites select their deals.”

The CMA will announce within six months whether it intends to refer the market for a more in-depth investigation and will publish its report within 12 months, setting out its findings and the actions (if any) it proposes to take.

CUBA CANDELA lists new direct flight options to Havana, Cuba

CUBA CANDELA, a US company specializing in experiential travel to Cuba, has reported US airlines will begin offering direct commercial flights to Havana, Cuba on or around November 28 2016, according to fares currently published on US airline websites, the company said.

US travelers eager to see Cuba before its predicted development will find it easier to visit the island´s capital city, as US carriers will offer introductory pricing at less than half of what charters have historically charged for round-trip tickets to Havana.

Of the eight US airlines reportedly awarded flights to Havana by the US Department of Transportation, five currently have bookable fares available online, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

CUBA CANDELA offers experiences in Cuba, including instant-book five-day tours that can be booked on the company´s website CUBACANDELA.com.

Gogo develops next generation ground network to support in-flight connectivity

Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO) has reported it is developing its next generation ground-based technology to serve the connectivity needs of business and commercial aviation in North America, the company said.

The company said the new network will use unlicensed spectrum, a proprietary modem and a new beam-forming antenna to produce peak network speeds of more than 100 mbps. This next generation ground-based network for the aero market will utilize LTE technology and leverage Gogo´s existing first generation North American network and infrastructure of more than 250 towers.

Gogo provides broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry. Gogo has partnerships with 16 commercial airlines and has installed in-flight connectivity technology on more than 2,800 commercial aircraft.

JetSuiteX introduces Carlsbad/San Jose service

JetSuiteX has introduced service between Carlsbad and San Jose, CA, starting October 17, 2016, the company said.

JetSuiteX will connect McClellan–Palomar Airport with Mineta San José International Airport with four roundtrip flights per week on a four-seat private jet Phenom 100 aircraft. The public charter operator launched service in April, and currently offers regular flights on 30-seat E135 aircraft in major west coast markets, including Las Vegas, Burbank and Concord in the East Bay.

Jet SuiteX´s offers private jet travel for commercial airline rates. JetSuiteX is a subsidiary of JetSuite launched in 2016, which offers by-the-seat and whole plane charter in West Coast markets.
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ARRIS launches Touchstone partner program, expands DOCSIS 3.1

ARRIS International plc (NASDAQ: ARRS) has launched its Touchstone development partner program, enabling partners to enhance the subscriber experience on Touchstone devices, the company said.

The company said it has expanded its leading portfolio of DOCSIS 3.1 devices, including modems, broadband gateways, and telephony gateways, to anticipate the needs of its diverse global customer base.

ARRIS´s DOCSIS 3.1 portfolio now includes three gateways to meet the needs of every gigabit service tier for service providers.

The Touchstone development partner program recognizes broadband gateway´s importance as a hub of the connected home. The program opens up the ARRIS Touchstone platform to software development partners.

ARRIS International plc. is a provider of communications and entertainment technology that combines hardware, software and services across the cloud, network, and home.

Axino appoints IBM executive to asset management position

Axino Solutions has named Hagen Neulen, key account manager for the company´s asset management and mobile solutions divisions, the company said.

Neulen will be responsible for helping Axino meet demands for its development, technology and integration services as an IBM Maximo business partner throughout the DACH region.

Prior to joining Axino, Neulen was with IBM Deutschland GmbH in a variety of business and market development positions, most recently as business solutions manager for IBM Maximo and IBM Tririga integrated workplace management solutions.

Axino Solutions, based in Aachen, Germany, provides communications solutions and services, developing software and systems for planning and implementation of comprehensive customer-specific software IT solutions for various customer segments, including telecommunications and public municipalities and government entities.

BOC Aviation selects V2500 engines to power Airbus A320ceo aircraft

BOC Aviation has selected the V2500 engine to power five firm Airbus A320ceo family aircraft, the company said.

The V2500 engine is offered through IAE International Aero Engines AG, a multinational aero engine consortium whose shareholders comprise Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX); Pratt & Whitney Aero Engines International GmbH; Japanese Aero Engines Corporation and MTU Aero Engines GmbH.

BOC Aviation is a global aircraft operating leasing company with a fleet of 483 aircraft owned, managed or on order. Its owned and managed fleet was leased to 64 airlines worldwide in 31 countries as of 30 June 2016.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units.

Cellcom Israel reports debenture offering results

Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE: CEL) (TASE: CEL) has reported public tenders for its series J and series K debentures have been concluded, the company said.

The company received offers for approximately NIS1.2 billion total consideration and accepted only a portion of these offers.

The company said it accepted approximately NIS103 million principal amount of Series J debentures at an interest rate of 2.45 percent per annum, and approximately NIS304 million principal amount of Series K debentures at an interest rate of 3.55 percent per annum.

Cellcom Israel Ltd. is an Israeli cellular provider operating an LTE 4 generation network that provides its approximately 2.812 million cellular subscribers with value-added services including cellular telephony, roaming services for tourists in Israel and for its subscribers abroad and additional services in the areas of music, video and mobile office.

Altoros supports testbed to find solution for mishandled bags

Altoros has participated as a supporting company in the Smart Airline Baggage Management Testbed to increase the ability of airlines to track baggage, preventing theft and loss, the company said.

The company said the testbed includes GE, M2Mi and Oracle as lead members.

In the US, six or seven bags are lost for every 1,000 handled, according to aviation IT company SITA and the US Department of Transportation. The result is 23+ million mishandled bags annually. Travelers are inconvenienced; it costs airlines USD100 to repatriate a delayed bag.

The system developed by the testbed participants will track a bag from check-in to delivery, using RFID tags and a range of wireless devices. It smartly associates luggage with passengers and flights, tracking baggage location through GPS in real time and generating alerts/events, such as a bag located where it should not be or a weight change in a bag.

The testbed is targets helping airlines address the new requirements set out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Resolution 753, which requires implementing more comprehensive solutions for baggage handling by June 2018.

Altoros is a developer of enterprise-grade software factories for organizations throughout the world. The company has 250+ employees across eight countries.