Iraqi Airways takes delivery of Boeing 777

Updated 15 December 2012
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Iraqi Airways takes delivery of Boeing 777

BAGHDAD: The first new Boeing jetliner sold to Iraq in years touched down in Baghdad yesterday, signaling the country's determination to rebuild its economy after decades of war and sanctions.
Iraq is eager to improve its creaky aviation industry, which lags far behind that of its energy-rich neighbors. Boeing's delivery of the twin-aisle 777-200LR plane comes less than two weeks after the company's chief rival Airbus announced the delivery of one of its own wide-body planes to Iraq.
"The arrival of the Boeing today is a step forward in building a big and reliable Iraqi Airways fleet," Iraqi Transportation Ministry spokesman Karim Al-Nouri said.
More planes are coming. Iraq has ordered another 30 of Boeing's smaller 737-800 model and 10 of its new 787. The first of the 737s will be delivered in the middle of next year, according to the Chicago-based plane maker.
Airbus in early December said it had delivered its first A330-200 to Iraq. Iraqi Airways, which plans to use that plane on European and other international routes, already operates two Airbus A321s.
Iraqi Airways' efforts to turn itself around have been hobbled by aging equipment, a lack of adequately trained staff and a long-running dispute with Kuwait stemming from Saddam Hussein's invasion in 1990.
The disagreement centered on Kuwait's accusations that Saddam's regime stole 10 airplanes and millions of dollars' worth of equipment and spare parts during the invasion. Kuwait earlier wanted to $1.2 billion in reparations, which Iraq's postwar leaders had resisted paying.
Iraq and Kuwait earlier this year reached a $ 500 million deal to settle the airline feud, paving the way for Iraqi Airways to resume normal operations. The dispute had scuttled at least one planned Iraqi Airways route, between Baghdad and London, after Kuwait attempted to confiscate the Iraqi plane in the British capital.
As Iraqi Airways has struggled, foreign airlines have increasingly begun flying to the country, eating into the national carrier's share of the market.
They include airlines from neighboring countries, including Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian, and well-funded Gulf airlines such as Emirates and Etihad Airways. Austrian Airlines last year became the first major Western carrier to resume regular flights to Baghdad since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Foreign airlines are increasingly offering flights to other Iraqi cities as well, particularly Irbil in the self-ruled Kurdish region. The Kurds' northern enclave is much safer than the capital and is a popular destination for foreign investors looking to break into the Iraqi market.
No US commercial airlines fly regularly to Iraq. The US Federal Aviation Administration last week lifted a 16-year-old a ban on American carriers flying to Irbil and Sulaimaniyah, also in the Kurdish area. The agency said flights to other Iraqi airports may be allowed in the future.


World Bank shareholders approve $13 billion capital increase

Updated 22 April 2018
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World Bank shareholders approve $13 billion capital increase

  • Capital increase follows three years of negotiations
  • Increase of $7.5 billion for main institution and $5.5 billion for IFC

World Bank shareholders approved a “historic” increase in the bank’s lending capacity late on Saturday after the United States backed a reform package that curbs loans and charges more for higher income countries like China.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said neither China nor any middle income countries was happy about the prospect of paying more for loans, but they agreed because of the overall increase in funds available.
The agreement, which also increase shares and voting power to large emerging market countries like China, was “a tremendous vote of confidence” in the institution that came after three years of tough negotiations, Kim said.
“World Bank Group bureaucrats don’t often jump around and high-five and hug each other,” Kim told a small group of reporters following the Spring meeting.
He said the increase was needed because even with the end of the global financial crisis, the bank has been called on to provide funding to address a new series of challenges facing poor countries, like climate change, refugees, pandemics, “all new things for us.”
The increase provides an additional $13 billion in “paid in” capital: $7.5 billion to the main institution and $5.5 billion to the bank’s private financing arm, the International Finance Corporation.
Kim said the increase will allow the bank to ramp up lending to an average of $100 billion a year through 2030, from $60 billion in 2017 and an expected $80 billion in 2018.
Countries will have five years to provide the funds, but can ask for a three-year extension. The last increase occurred in 2010 and added $5 billion to the bank’s capital and $200 million for the IFC.
The United States, the institution’s biggest shareholder, rejected the World Bank request in October and the administration of US President Donald Trump has argued that multilateral lending institutions should graduate countries that have grown enough to finance their own development, like China.
But US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday said Washington supports the increase because of the reforms to lending rules.
“I look at this as a package transaction... we support a capital increase on the World Bank, along with the associated reforms that they’re talking about making,” Mnuchin told reporters.
The increase requires legislative approval, but Mnuchin said he was hopeful Congress would back the plan. Kim also said he has had contact with representatives from both parties and received strong support.
In a statement to the World Bank’s governing committee, Mnuchin applauded the plan to “significantly shift lending to poorer clients.”
While he did not mention China by name, Mnuchin applauded the shift to a “new income-based lending allocation target and the re-introduction of differentiated pricing” for loans — meaning wealthier countries would pay higher interest rates.
“The latter will incentivize better-off, more creditworthy borrowers to seek market financing to meet their needs for development,” he said.
Mnuchin said the new arrangement, including for the IFC, “frees resources for countries that don’t have sustainable access to private capital markets.”P
China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Beijing supported increasing World Bank resources but had reservations about the agreement for changes in lending policies.
“We are concerned about some of the policy commitments in the capital package, such as those on graduation, maturity premium increase for loans and differentiated loan pricing based on national income per capita,” he said in a statement.
“We hope that the management take different national circumstances into full account in the implementation of the graduation policies... to ensure that these policies will not impede cooperation between the (bank) and upper middle income countries.”
Kim acknowledged that lending to China would decline, but only gradually. That means “whatever borrowing they do has to be as impactful as possible.”
And he noted that because of the capital increase, “we will be able to maintain volumes for middle income countries as a whole.”
Zhu said the capital increase is “a concrete measure to support multilateralism” at a time when “anti-globalization sentiments, unilateralism, protectionism in trade” were creating uncertainties in the global economy.