Ticker: Senate confirms new FAA chief; Visa profits grow on digital economy

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The Senate voted 98-0 to approve President Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday, ending a span of nearly 19 months in which the agency was without a Senate-confirmed chief.

Michael Whitaker is a former deputy FAA administrator and most recently served as chief operating officer of a Hyundai affiliate that is developing an air taxi.

Whitaker will take over an agency that faces many challenges, including a surge in close calls between planes at major airports, a shortage of air traffic controllers, and aging technology that resulted in a brief nationwide halt in flights in January.

Whitaker was Biden’s second choice for the job. The nomination of Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington languished for months, then failed to get out of the Commerce Committee because of opposition from Republicans and independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Visa profits grow on digital economy

Payments processing giant Visa Inc. posted an 18% rise in its fiscal fourth-quarter profits Tuesday, as the company continues to benefit from the growing use of credit and debit cards globally.

The San Francisco-based company said it earned $4.82 billion in the quarter, or $2.33 a share after one-time adjustments. That’s compared to a profit of $4.09 billion, or $1.93 a share, in the same period a year ago. Visa beat analysts’ forecasts, according to FactSet.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Visa has benefitted from a fundamental change in consumer behavior that has led to the broad acceptance of digital payments in places where traditionally cash was king, as well as from the growth in online shopping.

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