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Aloha Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late last week as its local rival, Hawaiian Airlines, prepares to emerge from bankruptcy reorganization this month. Aloha Airlines lost $6 million during the third quarter, its fourth quarterly loss in a row. Despite the financial difficulties, a spokesman for parent company Aloha Airgroup said the carrier will continue to book flights, honor tickets, and operate as scheduled. Other large carriers in Chapter 11 are US Airways Group, United Airlines parent UAL Corp., and ATA.

Flight attendants for United Airlines are threatening to stage intermittent strikes if the company, which is entering its third year of bankruptcy protection, ends their contract and imposes additional salary and benefit cuts. The two sides continue talks over a new contract, with hearings set to begin Jan. 7 in bankruptcy court on United's motion to terminate the existing contract if no agreement on a new pact has been reached. United says labor actions contemplated by the flight attendants union are illegal. The airline also must deal with pilots, angered that pilot benefits will be cut now that the government's pension agency, which is running a $23 billion deficit, is assuming responsibility for their pensions.

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Hurt by shrinking school budgets, J.L. Hammett Co., the oldest US school-supply firm, said Friday that it will close its 52 retail stores in 17 states but will continue to sell merchandise on its website. Most of the stores operate under the name Hammett's Learning World. The company, which is based in Braintree, Mass., was founded in 1863 by the inventor of the blackboard eraser. The company hoped that moving stores from enclosed malls into strip malls might boost sales, but the results didn't come quickly enough.

Venture-backed US companies turned increasingly to public stock offerings in 2004 to raise funds, generating $4.98 billion in initial public offerings compared to $1.41 billion in IPO revenue in 2003, CBSMarketWatch reported. Figures compiled by research firm VentureOne indicate that 67 venture-back companies went public, three times as many as did so the previous year. Google, the popular Web-search company, led the charge of information-technology companies turning to IPOs, raising $1.2 billion in the year's single-biggest deal.


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