UNITED STATES

NYC to test 'e-hailing' taxis via smartphone

Raising your arm and yelling "taxi!" is the old-fashioned way to nab a New York City cab. Soon, you'll also be able to do so via a modern method: a smartphone app.

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved a pilot program allowing riders to "e-hail" taxicabs, starting Feb. 15 on a test basis. Until now, the city has banned taxis from prearranging rides.

Antonio Clark, a cabbie who attended the commission meeting, said the smartphone hail will make getting a cab easier at night in neighborhoods where they're not easily available.

"You don't have to stand on a dark, empty street," Clark said. "You can wait inside an entrance, because the driver has your address."

-- Associated Press

AIRLINES

Discount carrier Rouge will start flying in July

Air Canada is entering the low-cost leisure travel market with the launch of its new Rouge airline in the hopes of reclaiming the market share it has lost to domestic and international competitors, Canada's largest airline has announced.

Rouge will begin flying on July 1 from Toronto to Venice, Italy, and Edinburgh, Scotland, two destinations that currently aren't served by Air Canada. It will also serve Athens from Toronto and Montreal. The carrier will take over Air Canada's existing flights to Cuba, the Dominican Republican, Jamaica and Costa Rica, which will be flown by the discount carrier from Toronto.

Air Canada plans to hire 200 flight attendants and pilots for Rouge. The pilots will be existing Air Canada pilots who will transfer to the new fleet that will cater to the leisure market.

-- Associated Press

Cathay's labor rift may affect service, smiles

Labor strife is common among airline workers, but flight attendants for Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific have voted to try unusual tactics to push stalled salary negotiations.

The flight attendants, who demanded a 5 percent pay increase but instead were offered a 2 percent raise, were considering performing only their safety-first responsibilities.

That means they could refrain from serving food and drinks, according to the union's general secretary, Tsang Kwok-fung. He said they may also abstain from smiling at work.

"We will be selective in providing our services," Tsang told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that the dates and the types of job action have yet to be decided. "This could include not smiling at passengers, not providing certain types of beverages -- such as alcohol -- or stopping serving meals."

-- Los Angeles Times