Today in the Fortune 500: More airline fees on the way, BP keeps Algerian assets and the iPad 2 takes to the skies

March 7, 2011, 8:04 PM UTC
A newer model American Airlines Airbus A300-60...
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The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

IF YOU THOUGHT AIRLINE FEES WERE RIDICULOUS ALREADY they are only getting more so. Companies including American Airlines (AMR) , Delta (DAL) and United Continental Holdings (UAL) are going to charge for additional services that were never before included in the ticket price. The added fees could enable carriers to tap into several billion dollars of extra revenue. [Wall Street Journal]

BP STAYS IN ALGERIA BP announced that it didn’t want to sell off its Algerian assets, which was a blow to the Russian company TNK-BP that was thinking of buying BP’s (BP) stake. The move from BP is a vote of confidence for the North-African nation, especially since BP is pulling staff out of neighboring Libya, which has shut down over half of its oil output. [Wall Street Journal]

IPAD 2 WINS THE PRICE WAR The iPad 2 has all sorts of fancy features, but apparently it’s most attractive quality is the price: $499. Apple (AAPL) has figured out how to sidestep fees and keep the costs of its tablets low, meaning  it’s going to be tough for companies such as HP (HPQ) and Samsung, which are rolling out competing products this year, to compete. [New York Times]

AND GOES AIRBORNE Apples iPad 2 won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to display navigational charts in the cockpits of some charter planes. A company called Executive Jet Management, part of Warren Buffett’s company NetJets, is testing the technology. If it works, and the trend catches, Apple will have made a big step towards selling its products to enterprise. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

HIRING SPREE at The company announced it was looking for 1,900 new people to work at its headquarters in Seattle. Amazon (AMZN) is profiting and growing. Over the past three years, and during a recession, doubled its annual profit to $1.15 billion. [UPI]

THE COMING PATENT CLIFF could seriously threaten some of the most powerful pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer (PFE), for one,  could lose a $10-billion-per-year money maker when companies will be allowed to make generic versions of its cholesterol drug Lipitor at the end of November. Other companies are facing similar problems. In fact, Morgan Stanley (MS) downgraded the whole class of Europe-based multinational pharmaceutical companies on the basis that the operating environment is only going to get worse for big pharma. [New York Times]