Southwest to let fliers pay to reserve seats

Unlike other carriers, Southwest Airlines doesn’t give passengers assigned seats, but now for $10 each way it’s giving customers a better shot at scoring a window or aisle seat.

Southwest announced Wednesday that customers can pay extra to reserve a spot in the boarding line right behind elite regular fliers and ahead of families with young children and other travelers.

This offering comes after Southwest introduced new fees for minors traveling alone and for bringing a small pet on board. Southwest still doesn’t charge to check the first two bags, but experts and regular passengers are starting to wonder if that’s next.

Uranium mining back in northern Arizona

Uranium mining is returning to northern Arizona after an absence of more than 20 years. A rebound in uranium market price and Tuesday’s air quality permit approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has Denison Mines planning to begin production before the end of the year at its Arizona 1 mine, about 35 miles south of Fredonia.

“We’re looking forward to mining again on the Arizona Strip, and I’m sure the people of Fredonia are happy too,” Denison President Ron Hochstein said.

He said 50 or more miners, earning average salaries of about $80,000, will be put to work at Arizona 1.

Up to 110,000 tons of ore per year will be mined at the site.

Galaxy Gaming shares now on Bulletin Board

Table game provider Galaxy Gaming is now traded under the symbol GLXZ on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, the Las Vegas-based company announced Wednesday.

The new symbol marks the completion of the company’s reverse merger with a financial firm earlier this year.

Galaxy Gaming offers casinos side wagers for blackjack and pai gow poker and two proprietary, nontraditional table games.

Las Vegas Sands moves toward resuming plans

Las Vegas Sands Corp. took another step toward restarting its stalled projects on Macau’s Cotai Strip.

The company announced Wednesday it had secured commitments for up to $600 million of cash through the sale of exchangeable bonds. The bonds must be exchanged into common stock of one of the company’s subsidiaries pending a successful initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Las Vegas Sands has said proceeds from an IPO in Asia would be used to resume construction on hotel-casino developments in Macau, which were halted 10 months ago when the company ran into financial trouble and credit markets dried up.


Replacement proposed for Fannie, Freddie

A mortgage industry group wants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac replaced with private companies that would be able to issue mortgage bonds formally backed by the federal government.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s proposal, released Wednesday, offers a plan for restructuring the U.S. mortgage market, which has been torn apart by the housing bust.

The Obama administration doesn’t expect to announce its plans for the two companies until early next year. It has listed several options, including merging them into a federal agency, shutting them down, or having their bad mortgage assets split into a new government-backed company.

Abbott Laboratories to acquire Visiogen

Abbott Laboratories said it agreed to acquire Irvine, Calif.-based Visiogen Inc., a maker of artificial lenses used to treat patients with cataracts, for $400 million in cash.

Closely held Visiogen makes intraocular lenses that are implanted in patients’ eyes after removal of the natural lens that has become clouded after a cataract. The product, known as Synchrony, is sold in Europe and is awaiting approval from U.S. regulators.

Southwest adjusts flights at McCarran

McCarran International Airport’s biggest carrier announced several seasonal flight adjustments for its January and February schedules.

Southwest Airlines will add one daily flight each from Las Vegas to Baltimore and Salt Lake City in January, and two daily flights to Buffalo in February. The airline will drop one daily flight each in January and February to Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Seattle; and St. Louis.

Brad Hawkins, a Southwest spokesman, said the adjustments are standard seasonal schedule tweaks.

Hawkins also noted that Las Vegas is the airline’s biggest destination, so companywide schedule changes reflect more additions and subtractions here than in other markets.

Nearly 470 of Southwest’s 3,200 daily flights go through McCarran.

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