Qantas launches first direct flight from Australia to London

Qantas’ 787 Dreamliner takes off on its inaugural flight from Perth to London. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2018

Qantas launches first direct flight from Australia to London

MELBOURNE: Australia’s first direct flight to Britain took off on Sunday from the western city of Perth, cutting flying time roughly three hours by skipping stopovers in Singapore or the Middle East, Qantas officials said.
The 17-hour flight, operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, will touch down in London at 5.05 a.m., having covered a distance of more than 9,000 miles (14,484 km).
It is the world’s second-longest flight after a Qatar Airways service between Doha and Auckland that covers 9,028 miles (14,529 km), or just 19 miles (31 km) more than the stretch from Perth to London.
The flight marked a “historic day for aviation,” said airline Chief Executive Alan Joyce.
“From today it will be the first link between Australia and Europe that has ever occurred non-stop in aviation,” he told reporters at a launch event. “We are so excited.”
About 730,000 British tourists visit Australia every year and the new service could boost interest in the state of Western Australia, often overlooked in favor of the country’s east coast, said Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo.
“There will be more opportunity than ever before for us to continue to showcase and highlight all the very best parts of Australia, including some of the most magnificent and iconic parts of Western Australia,” he said.
The service was a “game-changer,” said Mena Rawlings, Britain’s high commissioner to Australia.
“To have the opportunity to get on a plane at Heathrow and step out in Perth is just phenomenally exciting and I’m sure we are going to see lots and lots of people taking advantage of that.”
It is also set to shorten journeys from London to Sydney or Melbourne, compared with flying via Dubai.
Before the new service, the longest flight to Britain was a journey of 7,275 miles (11,708 km) between Heathrow and Jakarta, operated by Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier.
Qantas plans to introduce non-stop flights from Australia’s east coast to Britain in the next few years.


Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

Updated 11 December 2019

Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

  • Company is now world’s largest publicly traded company, bigger than Apple

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco shares opened at 35.2 riyals ($9.39) on Wednesday at the Kingdom’s stock exchange, 10 percent above their IPO price of 32 riyals, in their first day of trading following a record $26.5 billion initial public offering.
Aramco has earlier priced its IPO at 32 riyals ($8.53) per share, the high end of the target range, surpassing the $25 billion raised by Chinese retail giant Alibaba in its 2014 Wall Street debut.
Aramco’s earlier indicative debut price was seen at 35.2 riyals, 10 per cent above IPO price, raising the company’s valuation to $1.88 trillion, Refintiv data showed.
At that price, Aramco is world’s most valuable listed company. That’s more than the top five oil companies – Exxon Mobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP – combined.
“Today Aramco will become the largest listed company in the world and (Tadawul) among the top ten global financial markets,” Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chairwoman of the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, said during a ceremony marking the oil giant’s first day of trading.
“Aramco today is the largest integrated oil and gas company in the world. Before Saudi Arabia was the only shareholder of the company, now there are 5 million shareholders including citizens, residents and investors,” said Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the managing director and chief executive of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
“Aramco’s IPO will enhance the company’s governance and strengthen its standards.”
Amin Nasser, the president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, meanwhile thanked the new shareholders for their confidence and trust of the oil company.
The sale of 1.5 percent of the firm, or three billion shares, is the bedrock of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious strategy to overhaul the oil-reliant economy.
Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange earlier said it will hold an opening auction for Aramco shares for an hour from 9:30 a.m. followed by continuous trading, with price changes limited to plus or minus 10 percent.

The company said Friday it could exercise a “greenshoe” option, selling additional shares to bring the total raised up to $29.4 billion.
The market launch puts the oil behemoth’s value at $1.7 trillion, far ahead of other firms in the trillion-dollar club, including Apple and Microsoft.
Two-thirds of the shares were offered to institutional investors. Saudi government bodies accounted for 13.2 percent of the institutional tranche, investing around $2.3 billion, according to lead IPO manager Samba Capital.
The IPO is a crucial part of Prince Mohammed’s plan to wean the economy away from oil by pumping funds into megaprojects and non-energy industries such as tourism and entertainment.
Watch the video marking Aramco’s opening trading: