SaudiGulf considers 787 model in Boeing talks

Talks between SaudiGulf Airlines and Boeing could include deals for the 787 Dreamliner, the Saudi carrier’s chief commercial officer said. (AFP)
Updated 27 February 2018

SaudiGulf considers 787 model in Boeing talks

DUBAI: Talks between SaudiGulf Airlines and Boeing could include deals for the 787 Dreamliner, the Saudi carrier’s chief commercial officer said on Monday.
The privately owned airline signed a preliminary agreement for 16 Boeing jets last May during a visit to Saudi Arabia by US President Donald Trump.
SaudiGulf’s Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf said at the weekend that the agreement covers talks for the 787-9 and 787-10 or the 777-200 and 777-300 jets. The airline previously said the deal could include Boeing 777s.
SaudiGulf operates a fleet of four 136-seat Airbus A320s on six domestic routes and will launch its first international flight to Dubai on March 1.
Two Airbus A320 or larger A321 jets will be added to its fleet this year to launch flights to Pakistani cities Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Sialkot.
“We are in good talks with Boeing,” Makhlouf told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.
The wide-body aircraft could be delivered within the next three to four years, he said.
SaudiGulf has not indicated exactly which aircraft it intends to take and the talks have not yet produced an order.
The airline aims to fill at least 70 percent of its seats this year, up from 65 percent in 2017, and plans to increase usage of its planes to at least 12 hours a day in 2018, up from about 11 hours last year.
The airline is also in talks with Airbus and Boeing to buy A320s or Boeing 737s to build a narrow-body fleet of about 30 jets, Makhlouf said.
It is still considering whether to take delivery of 16 Bombardier CS300s ordered prior to SaudiGulf’s launch in 2016, he said.
SaudiGulf, owned by the Abdel Hadi Al-Qahtani & Sons Group, is Saudi Arabia’s youngest airline, having started domestic operations in October 2016. It competes against state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines and discount operator Flynas, as well as smaller carriers, in a domestic market of 32 million people.

Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

Updated 12 min 18 sec ago

Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

  • A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos

LONDON: Last-ditch Brexit trade talks continued in London on Sunday with fishing rights remaining an “outstanding major bone of contention,” according to British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “work continues, even on a Sunday,” as he arrived for the second day of talks.

Barnier had arrived in London on Friday following a spell in self-isolation after a member of his team contracted coronavirus and ahead of the resumption of talks with British counterpart David Frost on Saturday.

Both men warned that a deal could not be reached without major concessions from the other party.

There are only five weeks to go until the end of the current transition period, during which trade relations have remained largely unchanged.

The two key sticking points remain post-Brexit access to British fishing waters for European vessels and the EU’s demand for trade penalties if either side diverges from common standards or state aid regulations rules.

Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that this could be the final week of “substantive” talks, with time running out to agree and ratify a deal.

“There’s a deal to be done,” he said.

“On fishing there’s a point of principle: As we leave the EU we’re going to be an independent coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters,” he added.

Barnier told envoys last week that London was asking that European access to UK waters be cut by 80 percent, while the EU was willing to accept 15 to 18 percent, according to a Brussels source.

A British official called the demands “risible,” according to the domestic Press Association, adding that the “EU side knows full well that we would never accept this.”

“There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalize the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation,” said the source.

However, Raab was cautiously optimistic over the “level playing field” issue, saying “it feels like there is progress toward greater respect” for Britain’s position.

A failure to reach an agreement would see Britain and the EU trading on World Trade Organization terms, with tariffs immediately imposed on goods traveling to and from the continent.

As it stands, Britain will leave Europe’s trade and customs area on Dec. 31, with no prospect of an extension.

A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos, with customs checks required at borders.

Concern is particularly acute on the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, where the sudden imposition of a hard border threatens the delicate peace secured by 1999’s Good Friday Agreement.

The talks have already dragged on much longer than expected and time is running out for ratification of any deal by the European Parliament by the end of the year.