Albrecht aims to pilot Saudia back to its ‘glory days’

Albrecht aims to pilot Saudia back to its ‘glory days’
Updated 26 April 2017

Albrecht aims to pilot Saudia back to its ‘glory days’

Albrecht aims to pilot Saudia back to its ‘glory days’

Jaan Albrecht chose the occasion of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) for his first public outing as chief executive of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), and — even in an arena where aviation news comes thicker and faster than the jets landing at Dubai International Airport — he left his audience with much to ponder.
In an hour-long grilling from industry expert John Strickland, Albrecht gave some detail of his plans for the 72-year-old airline, and how he hopes to bring back what he called its “glory days.”
His strategy involves a rapid expansion in the aircraft fleet, further development of its hubs in Jeddah and Riyadh, massive growth in the number of passengers, especially for religious travel, and a commitment to the highest standard of on-ground and in-flight services.
In the course of a 40-year career that began as a pilot in Mexico (where he was born), Albrecht has privatized one airline, turned around one big loss-maker, and cemented the international Star Alliance, always heading eastward. Before landing in Saudia’s Jeddah HQ, he was in Turkey working on Lufthansa’s joint venture there.
He placed Saudia’s strategy firmly in the context of the country’s Vision 2030 plan for diversification, transformation and modernization.
“The country is looking for alternative sources of revenue, and Saudia is part of that,” he said.
But that does not mean he was hired to prepare the airline for a possible privatization, he insisted. Indeed the letters “IPO” were not mentioned during the hiring process.
“One of the reasons I was brought in was to make the company more profitable, to survive and thrive on its own. If eventually, privatization is part of the government strategy, it has to be in a fit state for that,” he said.
Albrecht will focus on what he regards as the huge potential that exists in the Saudi aviation market, unique among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. “There are 30 million proud Saudis who constitute a big domestic market you do not get in the rest of the region,” he said.
He believes the presence of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah are a source of enormous travel demand, and it is Saudia’s job to satisfy it. There were 8 million pilgrims last year, projected to rise to 20 million in 2020 and 30 million in 2030, he said.
Many of those will come through the new facilities at Jeddah, where a brand-new terminal is being planned to exploit its three runways. Development of the other hub in Riyadh is the second part of the strategy.
But the domestic market is not limited to those two. There are 27 airports in the Kingdom, he said, and Saudia serves 25 of them.
Until a few years ago, Saudia had the domestic market to itself via a monopoly arrangement, but now that is being challenged locally by low-cost operator Flynas. Saudia will, later this year, launch its own no-frills operator Flyadeal, a stand-alone operation owned by Saudia.
Internationally, Saudia will compete more intensively with other Gulf and international carriers that fly to the Kingdom. Albrecht is upgrading and expanding the fleet to meet this international challenge and plans to increase the size of the fleet from about 130 passenger aircraft to 200.
Given his background in Star, he will also be a more enthusiastic member of the SkyTeam alliance to which Saudia already belongs.
Albrecht admitted the US ban on in-flight laptops from Jeddah and Riyadh was a surprise but said it would not impact Saudia’s trans-Atlantic business as much as other Gulf carriers, which served more as hubs for air traffic from Asia to the US.
Albrecht reflected on his new role: “A good pilot is not necessarily a good manager, but in a turnaround situation it is an asset to have been a pilot. And both have safety as their top priority.”


Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
Updated 13 June 2021

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Of the financing, 776 million euros came from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD
  • The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo

CAIRO: Egypt has signed 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) worth of deals with France to finance projects in the transportation, infrastructure, electricity and wholesale sectors, the cabinet said on Sunday.
Of that financing, 776 million euros will come from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD, France's development agency, the cabinet said.
The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo.
In May, France announced a 4 billion euro deal to deliver 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt beginning in 2024, strengthening ties with what it considers a vital partner in fighting Islamist militants.
Projects announced on Sunday by the cabinet include sanitation stations as well as a number of railway projects, including the provision of 55 new cars for the Cairo metro's oldest line and the construction of a railway line between Aswan in southern Egypt and Wadi Halfa in neighbouring Sudan.
AFD will provide 150 million euros in support of Egypt's universal health insurance programme, the cabinet said. ($1 = 0.8260 euros)


UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
Updated 13 June 2021

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
  • This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region

DUBAI: Dubai contractor Drake & Scull International (DSI) recorded a net profit of 115 million dirhams ($31.3 million) in the first three months of the year.
This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region, including in countries such as Tunisia, Palestine, Kuwait, and Iraq.
DSI also recorded revenues of 46 million dirhams and the order backlog remained stable at 376 million dirhams, it said in a statement.
Drake & Scull was hit hard by the regional construction downturn since 2014 and has been involved in lengthy financial restructuring and cost cutting.
It signed contracts worth 376 million dirhams earlier this year.


PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
Updated 13 June 2021

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
  • The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday

RIYADH: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, on Sunday announced several new senior appointments, just days after it also created two new deputy governor roles as part of its expansion drive.

The fund announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to the global capital finance division.

Al-Dossari joins PIF from his position as managing director and head of investment banking for Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, where he served since 2017. He also previously worked at HSBC Saudi Arabia and the initial public offering and merger and acquisitions department at the Saudi Capital Market Authority.

Al-Madhi previously held senior positions at Abdul Latif Jameel Investments, Volkswagen Group, McKinsey & Company and Saudi Aramco. He is chairman of the board and executive committee of the Saudi Fisheries Company and is also a member of the board of the National Agricultural Development Company, which are both part of PIF’s portfolio.

Shaker joins PIF from Saudi Al Baraka Banking Group and has almost 25 years’ experience in banking and financial services, having worked for Deloitte, HSBC Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabia Capital Market Authority.

The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday.

Turqi Al-Nowaiser, who heads the international investments division, and Yazeed Al-Humied, who leads the MENA investments division, will take on the deputy governor roles alongside their current responsibilities at PIF.

“The latest appointments bolster the PIF leadership team, as it implements its ambitious plans as one of the world’s largest and most impactful investors, with the stated aim of reaching AUM (assets under management) of more than $1.07 trillion, while investing $40 billion annually into the local economy through 2025,” the PIF said in a statement on Sunday.

The fund announced in December 2020 that its total employee count surpassed 1,000, up from about 700 at the start of 2020 and 40 five years ago. It said that about 84 percent of its employees were Saudi citizens and 26 percent were women.

The PIF has grown to $430 billion AUM since 2016 and has invested about $90 billion into the Kingdom’s economy over the last five years, creating more than 331,000 new direct and indirect jobs.


Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
Updated 13 June 2021

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
  • The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MWThe government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1

DUBAI: The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said it was adding 600 megawatts (MW) of clean energy capacity to the emirate’s power mix this year.

The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MW, it said in a statement.

Half of the additional capacity will be from the 5th phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park. The rest will come from a 262-meter CSP tower and a parabolic trough.

Upon delivery of the projects, clean capacity in Dubai’s energy mix will reach around 10 percent in July, and 12 percent by the end of the year.

“This supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” DEWA’s CEO Saeed Mohammed Al-Tayer said.


G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
Updated 13 June 2021

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
  • Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders

CARBIS BAY, England: Group of Seven leaders were trying to resolve differences over a proposal to reallocate $100 billion from the International Monetary Fund’s warchest to help countries struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
An almost final version of the G7 communique seen by Reuters showed Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders.
The IMF’s members agreed in April to a $650 billion increase in IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and the G7 countries are considering whether to reallocate $100 billion of their rights to help poor countries fight the COVID pandemic.
SDRs are the IMF’s reserve asset, and are exchangeable for dollars, euros, sterling, yen and Chinese yuan or renminbi. Member states can loan or donate their SDR reserves to other countries for their use.
The head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that she had been heartened by the G7’s support for the plan and that she expected a clear indication later on how best to proceed, adding that the $100 billion target had been in discussion.