Business

Newsletter: California Inc.: Say goodbye to US Airways

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I'm Business reporter Andrea Chang, filling in for David Lazarus. Here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

LOOKING AHEAD

Airline mergers: The last US Airways flight ever will touch down in Philadelphia on Friday as the airline is absorbed into American Airlines. After that, the US Airways website will be turned off and the airline’s flight reservations transferred to American’s systems. The two businesses officially merged in 2013, but have moved cautiously to fully combine their operations in order to avoid glitches. Together, American and US Airways will be the world’s largest airline.

Class-action cases: On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a company can kill a class-action suit by offering to pay the lead plaintiff all of what he asked for. Jose Gomez, a California man, sued Navy contractor Campbell-Ewald alleging that he received an unwanted text message, a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The company offered him $1,503 to settle his claim, more than he sought, but the 9th Circuit Court said the class suit may proceed nonetheless. It's one of five class-action cases set to be decided in the Supreme Court's new term, four of which come from California.

Retail sales: Also on Wednesday, the Commerce Department will announce September’s retail sales, a statistic considered a bellwether of consumer spending. Retail sales have risen for six straight months. 

Jobs picture: On Friday the state will release California’s employment numbers for September. Over the last three years, California has added jobs at a faster rate than all but five other states, and the state’s unemployment rate has dipped from 10% to 6.1%. Economists project California employers will continue to hire at a faster clip than the rest of the U.S. through at least 2017.

Car show: The 51st annual Orange County International Auto Show, running Thursday through Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center, will feature more than 500 new vehicles from 34 manufacturers. The event is open to the public; admission is $12 for adults, $10 for those older than 61, and free for 12 and younger.

THE AGENDA

Today's Business section looks at every kid's favorite holiday: Halloween. Only, it's not just for kids anymore. Halloween has grown into a major consumer holiday that now includes 18- to 34-year-old millennials and older adults who seize the opportunity for a night of dress-up escapism. Consumers altogether will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year, or an average of $74.34 each, the National Retail Federation estimates.

STORY LINES

Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Free Willy: SeaWorld was dealt a big blow when the California Coastal Commission moved to ban captive whale breeding and drastically restrict the movement of whales in and out of the park. Those were the conditions set as part of its approval of a plan to build an expanded holding facility for the existing orcas.

Disney price hike: Happy just got a lot more expensive. Disneyland rolled out two new annual passes: the Signature Plus pass, which costs $1,049, and the Signature pass, which costs $849 and includes all of the Signature Plus options but has about two weeks' worth of blackout days. The prices of Disneyland's other annual passes also increased, as well as the price of parking.

American Apparel woes: The long-struggling clothing manufacturer and retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move that will take the company private and hand nearly 100% control to its largest bondholders. It still might not be enough to save the company, though.

VW fallout: Facing international outrage, a top Volkswagen executive blamed a handful of rogue software engineers for the company's emissions-test cheating scandal and told lawmakers that it would take years to fix most of the nearly half million vehicles affected in the U.S.

WHAT WE'RE READING

And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

New lenders: Bloomberg Business had a juicy piece about how two friends from Brooklyn made millions from a new kind of lending known as merchant cash advance. It’s a legal way to lend money to small businesses at extremely high interest rates. Completely unregulated, last year it surpassed the U.S. Small Business Administration as a source of loans for less than $150,000.

Newspapers as nonprofits: The Nieman Lab takes a look at the logistical and legal hurdles behind creating a nonprofit organization that would align Philadelphia's two daily newspapers and Philly.com with Temple University.

Fiorina's nemesis: Senator Barbara Boxer soundly defeated Carly Fiorina in 2010. Now she tells the Daily Beast that she is making it her mission to ensure that the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard gets no closer to the White House than she did to the Senate.

Seattle's soul: The New York Times takes a look at Seattle, home to a growing tech hub, and its new efforts to not become too much like San Francisco. “Seattle has wanted to be San Francisco for so long,” said Knute Berger, a longtime chronicler of life in Seattle. “Now it’s figuring out maybe that it isn’t what we want to be.”

For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Until next time, I'll see you in the Business section.