July 18, 2008

Bizworld: Newport News/Williamsburg Airport Sees More Passengers

Despite higher ticket prices and a sluggish economy, passenger traffic was up almost 4 percent at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport during the first half of 2008.

A total of 515,954 people flew through the airport during the past six months. The airport handled 496,922 passengers during the first six months of 2007.

Airport spokeswoman Jessica Wharton said that, despite the strong numbers, it's difficult to predict where the industry is headed. "We're going into uncharted waters with the airlines because of the price of fuel," Wharton said. "We're not the only airport that doesn't know what to expect."

The Newport News airport has benefited from the number of nonstop flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport provided by Air Tran, considered a low-cost carrier. There are three flights, for instance, leaving today, with a one-way walk-up fare of $199 before taxes and fees.

On Wednesday, officials at Norfolk International Airport reported passenger traffic was down 3 percent for the first half of 2008 compared with a year ago.

- Jacob Geiger

Hampton Roads

hampton gives OK for verizon's Fios

The Hampton City Council unanimously approved a 15-year franchise agreement with Verizon Communications Inc. on Wednesday that will allow the company to offer its fiber-optic Fios TV to 55,000 Hampton households.

Verizon said Thursday that it has already connected some households to the new cables, replacing old copper wiring. It announced in May that it planned to expand the service to Portsmouth, Poquoson and parts of York County.

Nearly 85,000 customers in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach have already been connected to the new wiring.

- Jacob Geiger

Pottery company not selling land

Williamsburg Pottery has decided not to sell 1,200 acres in James City and York counties.

In May, the company set up an online auction to sell the property. Bidding first was set to end July 1 but was extended to July 15 because of what the company called heavy interest.

This week, however, the owners of Williamsburg Pottery announced they had taken the property off the market.


A-B EXECS discuss sports marketing

WASHINGTON | Anheuser-Busch executives said Thursday that the beermaker will maintain its high level of sports marketing and sponsorship under InBev.

"There's nothing at all for those of us that are at the pulse of all this to suggest that our sports are cutting back at all," said Tony Ponturo, vice president of global media and sports marketing for Anheuser-Busch.

InBev SA solidified its $52 billion takeover of the brewer earlier this week.

Anheuser-Busch sponsors the Michelob Ultra Open LPGA tournament at its Kingsmill Resort & Spa in James City County.

Merck to begin vioxx payments

TRENTON, N.J. | Merck & Co. will start cutting checks for former users of its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx next month after announcing Thursday that it will fund a $4.85 billion settlement expected to resolve roughly 50,000 suits.

The decision marks the beginning of the end of the four-year legal saga, which began when cardiovascular side effects forced Merck to pull Vioxx off the market in 2004, triggering tens of thousands of lawsuits.

Mattel wins suit vs. bratz maker

A federal jury on Thursday handed a major victory to the house that Barbie built, finding that a Mattel Inc. designer created the hugely lucrative Bratz dolls while he worked at the company under an exclusivity contract.

The jury also found that MGA Entertainment Inc., which debuted the Bratz dolls in 2001, aided and abetted the designer's breach of the Mattel contract.

The verdict opens the door to Mattel claiming damages or even a stake in the doll, which analysts estimate has made MGA from $500 million to $2 billion a year.

- From staff and wire reports

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