The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 21, 2021 1:00 am


Regulators probe Ford truck recall for tailgate

News services

DETROIT – U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that a Ford pickup truck tailgate recall didn't fix the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 11 complaints that a recall of power tailgates on 300,000 Super Duty pickups failed to rectify the issue. The agency says it also has received reports from Ford about unintended tailgate openings after the recall repairs were made.

Ford recalled the F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks in 2019 because the power tailgates could open while being driven. The defect allowed for the potential of unrestrained cargo tumbling from vehicles. The trucks are from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

The agency says it will investigate how often the problem happens and what the safety consequences are. The probe could lead to another recall. A message was left Wednesday seeking comment from Ford.

Airfare average hits record low

Average airfare hit a record low in the third quarter of last year with the pandemic-driven decline in travel.

The average U.S. domestic airfare was $245 in the July-to-September quarter of 2020, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

That's the lowest average quarterly airfare on record, based on inflation-adjusted data going back to 1995, and marked a nearly 30% decline from $349 a year earlier. The third quarter average fare was also down from $262 in the second quarter of 2020, which was the previous low.

The drop in airfare came as airlines struggled to attract passengers. The number of passengers was down about 68% in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

The DOT's average fares are based on round-trip itineraries, but the data also include one-way tickets if no return fare is purchased. About 55% of the fares were for round trips.

Ma appears in video after long absence

China's highest-profile entrepreneur, Jack Ma, appeared Wednesday in an online video, ending a 21/2-month absence from public view that prompted speculation about the future of the e-commerce billionaire and his Alibaba Group.

In the 50-second video, Ma congratulated teachers supported by his foundation and made no mention of his disappearance or official efforts to tighten control over Alibaba and other internet companies during the last six months. The video appeared on Chinese business news and other websites.

The normally voluble Ma disappeared from public view after he irked regulators by criticizing them in an Oct. 24 speech at a Shanghai conference. Days later, regulators suspended the planned multibillion-dollar stock market debut of Ant Group, a financial platform that grew out of Alibaba's payments service, Alipay.

Some people suggested the ruling Communist Party was making an example of Ma to show entrepreneurs couldn't defy regulators.

Ma, a ruling party member, stepped down as Alibaba chairman in 2019 but is a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors. He played a leading role in developing Ant, which grew out of Alibaba's online payment service, Alipay.

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