Ryanair cancels flights after ‘messing up’ pilot holidays

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Ryanair cancelled 82 flights on Sunday after admitting it had “messed up” the planning of its pilots’ holidays.

The budget airline said on Saturday that it would cancel 40-50 flights every day for the next six weeks.

Marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said affected customers with bookings up to 20 September had been informed.

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that,” he said.

Most of the cancellations are due to a backlog of staff leave which has seen large numbers of the airline’s staff book holidays towards the end of the year.

The airline is changing its holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to run from January to December instead.

Rynanair said the shift meant it had to allocate annual leave to pilots in September and October.

Passenger complaints

The cancellations could affect up to 285,000 passengers, who will be offered alternative flights or refunds.

Mr Jacobs said affected customers would have been sent an email.

“We advise customers to check the email address used to make their booking,” he added.

A page on the Ryanair website details flights cancelled up until 20 September. It says 56 flights are cancelled on Monday, 55 on Tuesday, and 53 on Wednesday.

Ryanair has said that less than 2% of its flights would be cancelled and the move would help it hit its annual punctuality target of 90%.

But passengers have complained about the resulting uncertainty. Gary Cummings was due to fly from Leeds to Bratislava on Friday morning.

On Thursday night he received a text message from Ryanair, saying his flight had been cancelled.

The only alternative flight he was offered was on Monday – when he was originally due to be returning to Leeds.

“We were left in limbo really,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

UK Aviation Minister Lord Callanan said he expected “all airlines to fulfil their obligations to their customers”.

“In the event of any disruption or cancellation airlines must ensure customers are fully compensated and every effort is made to provide alternative travel arrangements.”

Customers do have rights under the European Passenger Rights legislation.

“The rules say if the airline doesn’t have a suitable alternative flight, you have to be booked on a rival airline,” said Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent.

He said passengers should also be able to claim compensation for the cancellations.

“It’s a really odd thing in terms of customer care, to say we want to improve the operation by keeping more planes on the ground,” he told the BBC.


Equifax had ‘admin’ as login and password in Argentina

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The credit report provider Equifax has been accused of a fresh data security breach, this time affecting its Argentine operations.

Cyber-crime blogger Brian Krebs said that an online employee tool used in the country could be accessed by typing “admin” as both a login and password.

He added that this gave access to records that included thousands of customers’ national identity numbers.

Last week, the firm revealed a separate attack affecting millions in the US.

After being notified of the latest breach, Equifax temporarily shut the affected website.

“We learned of a potential vulnerability in an internal portal in Argentina which was not in any way connected to the cyber-security event that occurred in the United States last week,” an Equifax spokeswoman told the BBC.

“We immediately acted to remediate the situation, which affected a limited amount of information strictly related to Equifax employees.

“We have no evidence at this time that any consumers or customers have been negatively affected, and we will continue to test and improve all security measures in the region.”

The discovery came less than a week after Equifax revealed that a separate breach meant about 143 million US consumers and an undisclosed number of British and Canadian residents might have had personal details exposed.

The firm took six weeks to make the discovery public after first learning of a problem.

On Tuesday, 36 US senators called for a federal investigation into how three company executives came to sell nearly $2m (£1.5m) worth of shares in the company in the interim.

Equifax is also facing dozens of legal claims over the matter. Mr Krebs wrote that the Argentine matter involved Equifax’s local business Veraz.

Specifically, a web application – referred to as Ayuda, the Spanish for “help” – appears to have been weakly guarded.

“[It] was wide open, protected by perhaps the most easy-to-guess password combination ever: admin/admin,” wrote Mr Krebs.

The discovery was made by the US cyber-security firm Hold Security, which Mr Krebs advises.

Its researchers explored the portal and within found a list of more 100 Argentina-based employees, the blogger disclosed.

Using this list they were able to uncover the workers’ company usernames and passwords, which turned out to be matching words in each instance.

Each example amounted to either solely the worker’s last name or a combination of their surname and their first initial, which made them fairly easy to guess anyway, Mr Krebs added.

‘Extraordinary’

“But wait, it gets worse,” he blogged.

“From the main page of the Equifax.com.ar employee portal was a listing of some 715 pages worth of complaints and disputes filed by Argentinians who had at one point over the past decade contacted Equifax via fax, phone or email to dispute issues with their credit reports.

“The site also lists each person’s DNI [documento nacional de identidad]- the Argentinian equivalent of the social security number – again, in plain text.”

All told, there were more than 14,000 such records, Mr Krebs said, concluding that the firm had been “sloppy”.

Unlike social security numbers in the US, DNIs are publically available in Argentina.

But one UK-based cyber-security expert agreed the case raised questions about how Equifax protects the data it holds.

“This kind of security vulnerability is extraordinary as even the most basic of checks should reveal this,” Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey told the BBC.

“It’s outrageous that any organisation that holds such sensitive personal data can build a portal with this kind of basic security vulnerability.

“It simply shouldn’t happen and responding that they have now fixed the issue is not the point: it puts a huge question mark over whether Equifax have been applying the appropriate resources to online security elsewhere.”


Commuters crawling to a standstill as city speeds fall

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If it feels like your daily commute is taking longer and longer it’s probably because it is.

New data shows that average driving speeds in many of Britain’s major cities are falling, adding time and frustration to the daily slog to and from work. In London, Glasgow and Manchester average speeds within a mile of the city centres have dropped by more than 1mph since last year.

Speeds in the capital are the worst in the country at just 5.13mph within a mile of the centre and 8.34 within five miles but other major cities are almost as bad.

Edinburgh motorists achieve an average of just 6.64mph within a mile of the centre and just 12.38 within five miles, and those in Glasgow and Manchester also plod along at an average well below 7mph. The latest Department for Transport figures show that traffic volumes across the country rose 1.7 per cent between April 2016 and March 2017 to a total of 324.3 billion miles.

With such rises it’s perhaps unsurprising that journeys are taking longer for the estimated two-thirds of us who commute on a daily basis.

The figures were revealed by analysing data from 400,000 journeys gathered over three months by telematics firm In-Car Cleverness. Its head of sales, Paul O’Dowd, commented: “The figures paint a stark picture of how everyday commuters, drivers and even businesses are struggling to get around or operate in some of the biggest hubs in the UK.

“It is likely down to a few factors. Overall traffic volumes are higher and this increase will be most noticeable in urban areas. As well as more traffic on the roads, major cities are increasingly introducing tighter speed restrictions while adopting more bus lanes, as well as cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

 


Nicky Morgan wants leaked report into RBS published

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Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan has called for the full publication of a leaked report into the treatment of customers in RBS’s global restructuring group (GRG).

The report, produced for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), suggested the group mistreated many of its clients.

RBS denies that claim.

Mrs Morgan has asked FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey to secure RBS’s permission to publish it “without delay”.

“The report is in the hands of an unknown number of third parties,” she said.

“The balance has tipped firmly in favour of full publication.”

GRG operated from 2005 to 2013 and at its peak handled 16,000 companies.

It was introduced as an expert service that would turn around a business and stepped in when companies missed a loan repayment or had a drop in sales or profits.

But the FCA report found struggling companies that were placed in the recovery group had a slim chance of emerging from it.

Four-year wait

“The FCA told the committee in November 2016 that a ‘full account’ of the findings from the skilled persons’ report would be published,” Mrs Morgan said.

“Nearly a year later, and nearly four years since the report was commissioned, we are still waiting for answers.”

“I have asked Mr Bailey to update the committee on any information that the FCA uncovers as part of its inquiry into the leak,” she said.

“This would not be the first instance of leaking from the FCA, but lessons must be learned to ensure it is the last.”

The FCA said it would respond “in due course” to the request from Mrs Morgan.

“We have already initiated a leak inquiry into the disclosure of the s166 report on RBS GRG to the BBC, and we have asked the other parties who had access to the report, namely RBS and Promontory, to do the same.

“If the Treasury Select Committee or the BBC have evidence that the document was leaked by the FCA, we encourage them to share that with us.”

‘Address concerns’

In November 2013, Lawrence Tomlinson, then ‘Enterprise Czar’ for Business Secretary Vince Cable, made several allegations against RBS in a report into the GRG.

On the same day, RBS chairman Sir Andrew Large published an RBS-commissioned report into its own lending performance, which said that the bank needed “to address the concerns that have been raised by some customers and external shareholders”.

Two months later the FCA announced its own review into the group’s conduct.


Bank of Scotland receives most complaints – again

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The Bank of Scotland remains the most complained about financial business in the UK, according to the complaints watchdog.

In the first six months of 2017 the Financial Ombudsman said it dealt with 20,541 complaints about the firm – part of the Lloyds Banking Group.

However only 22% of those complaints were upheld.

The vast majority of the complaints about the Bank of Scotland – 83%- concerned its sales of PPI insurance. Meanwhile PPI complaints once again topped the table of consumer concerns, with a 14% rise in complaints to the Financial Ombudsman in the first half of the year, compared to the last six months of 2016. In total the Financial Ombudsman Service received 89,513 PPI complaints, up from 78,375 in the previous period.

Increasing workload

Bank of Scotland was also the most complained-about financial firm in the last six months of 2016. The latest figures put Lloyds Bank in second place. The bank was the subject of more than 18,000 complaints, but more of these – 37% – were upheld.

The group has so far put aside £18bn to compensate customers who were mis-sold PPI. Last month the Financial Conduct Authority ruled that all PPI claims will have to be lodged by 29 August 2019. That is likely to lead to a further rise in complaints, as claims management firms seek to capitalise on the deadline.

“While we still don’t know what impact this will have on our workload, today’s data shows that PPI complaints are already increasing,” said Caroline Wayman, chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service. The peak for the number of complaints about PPI was in 2013/14, when the Ombudsman received nearly 400,000 referrals. The Ombudsman also received over 15,000 complaints about Barclays, the highest number for issues to do with banking or credit.


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