Business & Finance

After Northwest Airlines failed to join it, rival carriers dropped a fare increase of $20 per round trip first adopted by Continental last week to offset rising fuel costs. United, Delta, American, and US Airways had quickly followed suit. It was the third failed attempt by the financially struggling but highly competitive industry to raise ticket prices in two months.

Reuters, the international news and financial-information service, said it will cut 3,000 more jobs as part of a three-year turnaround plan. The company, based in London, reported a $631 million net loss for 2002, the largest in its 151-year history. It also forecast declining revenues for the first and second quarters of this year. The new layoffs come on top of 2,500 others dating back to 2001.

A Wal-Mart subsidiary, ASDA Group PLC, will hire 3,900 more workers by year's end, an announcement said. The supermarket chain, Britain's third-largest, said it will build seven new stores, relocate three others, and expand five more.

Combustion Engineering Inc. filed a prepackaged bankruptcy plan in a move by its Swiss parent, electrical engineering giant ABB Ltd., to cap mounting asbestos liabilities, the Financial Times reported. The plan would make $1.3 billion available to settle more than 100,000 claims, well below the $3 billion some analysts had estimated. Combustion Engineering is based in Norwalk, Conn.

Only two weeks after losing its operating license, Air Lib, the second-largest carrier in France, was ordered liquidated by a commercial court. The ruling means the airline's assets will be put up for auction and its 3,200 employees will lose their jobs. Air Lib executives had asked the court for more time to pursue potential investors.

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