Kingdom’s nonoil business activity accelerates in June

Updated 03 July 2014
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Kingdom’s nonoil business activity accelerates in June

Growth in Saudi Arabia’s nonoil business activity rose to a five-month high in June, bolstered by strong growth in output and new orders, a survey showed.
The Saudi British Bank (SABB) has published the results of the headline SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for June 2014 — a monthly report issued by the bank and HSBC.
It reflects the economic performance of Saudi Arabian nonoil producing private sector companies through monitoring a number of variables, including output, orders, prices, stocks and employment.
June data signalled the continued expansion of the Saudi Arabian nonoil private sector, with the seasonally adjusted headline PMI recording 59.2, up from 57.0 in May.
This highlights a strong improvement in operating conditions and the highest since January.
The improvement in the headline PMI partly emanated from stronger growth in both output and new orders, while record-high buying activity was recorded. The pace of output growth quickened to a 26-month high. New business from abroad also improved, albeit at a slower pace than total new orders.
Companies sought to meet rising demand by ramping up output. Firms also recorded a further increase in backlogs of work as new business rose sharply. However, the rate of accumulation was slower than in the previous month and was moderate overall.
In response to growing signs of capacity constraints at their units, Saudi Arabian nonoil private sector firms increased their workforce numbers for a third successive month.
The net rise in employment was solid overall, with the latest increase the fastest in the current sequence of job creation.
Panellists signalled strong levels of optimism for growth by continuing to increase their purchasing activity during June. The latest data indicated the sharpest rise in input buying since the survey began in August 2009, as companies expanded their inventories in order to meet current levels of demand and in anticipation of higher future workloads. Consequently, stocks of purchases continued to build in June and the rate of increase was the sharpest in four months.
In spite of strong demand for inputs, average delivery times continued to improve. Better vendor performance was encouraged by a competitive market that required shorter delivery times.
Overall input costs in Saudi Arabia’s nonoil private sector continued to rise in June, and at a faster pace than the previous three months. Staff cost increases were marginal, with purchase prices the driving force behind the rise in overall input costs. Panellists linked higher purchasing costs to a strong level of demand present in the economy.
In response to increased cost inflation, companies raised their selling prices, albeit marginally, during June. The pace of expansion was fractional overall, with the vast majority of the panel reporting no change from the previous month.


50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artists impression of his company's proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2018
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50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

  • Boom Supersonic’s aircraft is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year
  • The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people

WEYBRIDGE, United Kingdom: Luxury air travel faster than the speed of sound: A US start-up is aiming to revive commercial supersonic flight 50 years after the ill-fated Concorde first took to the skies.
Blake Scholl, the former Amazon staffer who co-founded Boom Supersonic, delivered the pledge this week in front of a fully-restored Concorde jet at the Brooklands aviation and motor museum in Weybridge, southwest of London.
Boom Supersonic’s backers include Richard Branson and Japan Airlines and other players are eyeing the same segment.
The company aims to manufacture a prototype jet next year but its plans have been met with skepticism in some quarters.
“The story of Concorde is the story of a journey started but not completed — and we want to pick up on it,” Scholl said.
The event coincided with the nearby Farnborough Airshow.
“Today... the world is more linked than it’s ever been before and the need for improved human connection has never been greater,” Scholl said.
“At Boom, we are inspired at what was accomplished half a century ago,” he added, speaking in front of a former British Airways Concorde that flew for the first time in 1969.

Boom Supersonic’s aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year.
“If we can’t continue where you left off, and build on that, then the shame is on us,” Scholl said, addressing himself to an audience that included retired Concorde staff.
“Our vision is to build a faster airplane that is accessible to more and more people, to anybody who flies.”
Boom Supersonic is making its debut at Farnborough and hopes to produce its new-generation jets in the mid-2020s or later, with the aim of slashing journey times by half.
The proposed aircraft has a maximum flying range of 8,334 kilometers (5,167 miles) at a speed of Mach 2.2 or 2,335 kilometers per hour.
If it takes off, it would be the first supersonic passenger aircraft since Concorde took its final flight in 2003.
The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people.
Some analysts remain skeptical over the push back into supersonic.
“Supersonic is not what passengers or airlines want right now,” said Strategic Aero analyst Saj Ahmed, stressing that many travelers wanted cheap low-cost carriers instead.
Ahmed said supersonic jets were “very unattractive” because of high start-up development costs, considerations about noise pollution and high prices as well as limited capacity.

Independent air transport consultant John Strickland also noted supersonic travel was unproven commercially.
“Business traffic, on the face of it, is the most lucrative for airlines,” Strickland told AFP.
“But if there is an economic downturn or something happens where the market for business class traffic drains away, then you have nothing else left to do with that aircraft.
“I think it’s going to be some time before we see whether it can establish a large viable market... in the way that Concorde never managed to do.”
These concerns have not stopped interest from other players.
US aerospace giant Boeing had last month unveiled its “hypersonic” airliner concept, which it hopes will fly at Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — when it arrives on the scene in 20 to 30 years.
And in April, NASA inked a deal for US giant Lockheed Martin to develop a supersonic “X-plane.”