BA welcomes first Airbus A380 jet

Updated 05 July 2013
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BA welcomes first Airbus A380 jet

LONDON: British Airways welcomed its first Airbus A380 jet, the world’s biggest commercial aircraft, part of a $15 billion upgrade to top-of-the-range planes that it hopes will give it a boost in the lucrative market for long-haul business travel.
The emergence of the fuel-efficient double-decker through the grey clouds over Heathrow airport in west London was greeted by hundreds of British Airways (BA) staff and spectators, a boon to a group that has been weighed down by its aging fleet.
The plane touched down on time and taxied into a hangar near Heathrow terminal five, met by cabin crew in uniform waving British flags. The first long-haul flight on the A380 will run to Los Angeles on Sept. 24, the British flag carrier said, slightly earlier than the originally planned October start.
“These aircraft are the start of a new era for British Airways,” said Chief Executive Keith Williams, noting the airline hadn’t had any new long-haul aircraft for 17 years.
“Over the next 15 months, we will take delivery of new aircraft at the rate of one a fortnight as we put ourselves at the forefront of modern aviation.”
BA’s ageing long-haul fleet has put it at a “cost and quality” disadvantage to rivals, especially deep pocketed Middle Eastern carriers such as Emirates, which run newer, more cost-effective planes that are also more comfortable and better equipped, according to Davy analyst Stephen Furlong.
BA, part of International Airlines Group (IAG), received the first of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners last month, making it the first airline in Europe to fly both new planes once commercial operations begin.
The aircraft are the centerpiece of a ten-year, $15 billion upgrade to BA’s long-haul fleet, which will include retiring older and less fuel-efficient Boeing 747-400 jumbos.
IAG will need to wring all the profit it can from its new jets if operational problems at its Spanish carrier Iberia continue to wipe out progress at BA.
IAG, Europe’s third-biggest airline group by market value, made an operating loss of 278 million euros ($ 361 million) in the first three months of this year, with Iberia causing 202 million of that as it suffered from competition from low-cost rivals and high-speed trains and labor disputes. BA broke even during the quarter, helped by business and first-class traffic.
BA has 12 A380s and 42 Dreamliners on order for delivery over the next ten years. The A380 is built for use between major international airports, while the Dreamliner is intended for less busy routes and uses lightweight technology.
Sales of the A380 have been sluggish over the last five years, with Airbus announcing 262 orders, of which 105 are now in service. Attention has turned to smaller, lighter planes like the Airbus A350 and the Dreamliner.
However, Airbus Executive Vice President of Programmes, Tom Williams, saw a change as global growth picks up. “With passenger numbers now rising and airlines adding capacity again we feel the A380 is the right plane for this time,” he said.
BA’s A380s, which will carry 469 people, will go a small way to helping it cope with capacity constraints at Heathrow.
Business lobby groups have said Britain risks falling behind if it does not boost flights to emerging economies. But plans for a third Heathrow runway were scrapped in 2010 when the government bowed to pressure from local residents and environmental groups.
The arrival of the A380s will be welcomed by bosses at Heathrow who plan to name and shame airlines found guilty of breaking noise limits at the airport as it seeks to win more public support for expansion plans.
Noise produced by airlines using Heathrow affects some 700,000 local residents, according to Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, more than any other airport in Europe.
Airbus says the A380 makes half the noise of Boeing’s 747 — previously the world’s biggest jet — during take off, while Boeing says its Dreamliner is equivalent to the sounds of heavy traffic when standing at a roadside.
Both manufacturers say their new planes burn at least 20 percent less fuel than similar, older models.
BA’s A380 has a lower seat density than many of its competitors, as it looks to lure more passengers to first and business class seats, the most profitable part of its business.
Its fleet modernization program also includes orders for six new Boeing 777-300ERs, along with 18 Airbus A350 jets.


Financial crime leads to billions of lost business in Middle East, survey finds

Updated 24 May 2018
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Financial crime leads to billions of lost business in Middle East, survey finds

  • Some 45 percent of MENA respondents in Thomson Reuters victims of fraud, corruption and bribery
  • 77 percent of MENA respondents deliberately avoided customers, suppliers, countries or industries viewed as most exposed to financial crime.

LONDON: Middle Eastern companies are losing billions of dollars in business opportunities because of fears about financial crime, according to a Thomson Reuters survey published on Thursday.

Concern about the possibility of severe financial and reputational damage due to regulatory breaches leads foreign investors and firms to shun companies and entire regions where they see “heightened risk.”

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 77 percent of survey respondents said that they deliberately avoided customers, suppliers, countries or industries which they viewed as most exposed to financial crime.

“The impact in terms of lost opportunities at both organizational and national level is difficult to quantify, but likely to impact productivity and economic development,” Thomson Reuters said.

The report was conducted online by an independent third party in March 2018. More than 2,000 senior managers at large global organizations completed the survey, from 19 countries.

In a hard-hitting conclusion, the report said: “For the first time our research has put a price on financial crime: three and a half percent of corporate turnover for the 2,373 large companies in our survey alone. That adds up to a staggering $1.45 trillion.”

Financial crime was said to blight individual lives and undermine the ability of governments to provide key services such as education and health. The IMF has shown that it reduces economic growth and social cohesion.

Che Sidanius, global head of financial crime regulation at Thomson Reuters, said that financial crime caused “incalculable” harm around the world. The proceeds of activities spanning bribery, corruption, fraud, and narcotics trafficking have been implicated in the financing of terrorism, human rights abuses such as slavery and child labor, and environmental crime.

“This has serious economic and social costs in terms of the lost revenues to national exchequers that could be invested in social development, and in terms of the impact on individual lives,” Sidanius said.

Other key findings were that 45 percent of MENA respondents had been a victim of financial crime as opposed to 47 percent globally; 96 percent believed that bribery and corruption was an important issue to tackle; 57 percent indicated that the consequences of bribery and corruption meant less government revenue; only 59 percent said that they fully conducted due diligence; and only 60 percent fully conducted due diligence, the report said.