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America’s Nine Most Damaged Brands

6. Airbus 380
“Airbus A380 Fleet Needs Full Inspection of Wings Amid Cracks”–Bloomberg (2/8/12)

U.S. airlines now own nearly as many Airbus planes as they do Boeing aircrats. The Airbus 380 was the European company’s response to the tremendously successful Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which was at the top of the large plane market after its launch in 1970. The A380 is bigger than the 747; it has two full decks and seats up to 535 people. After several delays, the jet was finally delivered at the end of 2007 and became a critical part of the long-haul fleets of Singapore Air, Qantas, Lufthansa and Emirates — all of which have routes between large cities around the world. But with the many problems in the A380 program, European conglomerate EADS — Airbus parent — was merciless with management changes.

Once the A380 was launched, it sold successfully. Eighty-five planes have been built already, and the model sells for nearly $400 million. But the aircraft’s strong run was short lived. Qantas found cracks in the wings of one of its A380 — a total of 36 on a single plan. The European Air Safety Agency decided that all of the planes had to be checked immediately and issued a directive: “This condition, if not detected and corrected, may lead to a reduction of the structural integrity of the aeroplane.”

Aside from the safety concerns, there are financial consequences as well. Emirates said it will lose $90 million due primarily to the cost of maintenance and repairs. The carrier’s CEO Tim Clark told the Financial Times, “From a commercial point of view, it’s a
dreadful experience. It has caused a lot of commercial hardship and we are not
very happy with the way this has gone.”

5. Rush Limbaugh
“Rush Limbaugh’s ‘slut’ comment draws rebukes from all sides” —LA Times (3/2/12)

The radio industry’s bible, “Talkers,” crowned Limbaugh king of all radio hosts for 2011. The publication used Arbitron data to set Rush’s weekly audience at over 15 million. Fellow right-winger Glenn Beck’s audience is only 8.5 million. The Drudge Report said that Limbaugh’s compensation package totaled $400 million for the period from 2008 to 2016. Limbaugh also lead a Zogby poll about the most trusted names in news.

Limbaugh’s stretch at the top of the radio food chain was severely undermined on February 29 when he made scathing comments about a Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke. Fluke, testifying before Congress, supported mandating health insurers to cover contraceptive costs. Limbaugh reacted to her testimony by saying “[Fluke] essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.” He kept up the barrage for two days.

Rush only backed down after his comments were repudiated by several senior Republicans and a number of national advertisers deserted his show. David Friend, the CEO of  one of Limbaugh’s largest advertisers, Carbonite, said “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency.” The New York Times also reported about the boycott: “It is, analysts say, the most serious rebellion against ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ in the more than 20 years that the show has been broadcast.”

4. Greece
“The Acropolis is not in flames”–SmartMoney (2/15/12)

Greece has been one of America’s most important tourist destinations for years. No longer.

Tourism revenue is 15% of Greece’s GDP, which is one of the reason the nation is in so much trouble now. Businesses in the country have watched the number of people who travel to the southern European nation fall. Contributing factors to the drop are the fact that Greek air traffic controllers occasionally shutter airports and drivers sometimes quit their public transportation posts. They do so as a means to protest austerity measures that have cut their pensions and pay in the name of bringing down the national deficit. Businesses in Greece have watched the situation deteriorate so much that they expect the trend will continue, or even worsen.

The Greek news agency ANSAmed reports: “Business expectations in the Greece’s tourism sector fell significantly in the fourth quarter of 2011, a recent survey showed. The business expectations index fell to 71 points for hotel enterprises and to 48 points for tourism enterprises, down 35 and 22 points, respectively, from the previous three-month period.”

“It took years for Athens to get a good reputation with the 2004 Olympic Games,” the president of the Hellenic Hotel Federation, Giannis Retsos, told BusinessWeek. “Last year showed how this reputation can be destroyed in one day through one incident.”

The Greek islands, the beaches, Athens, the Acropolis — Greece markets itself with the tagline “You In Greece.” Right next to the protestors with the stones and Molotov cocktails.

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