Rial’s plunge forces Iran to open door to foreign money

Iran’s currency has lost about two-thirds of its value this year, hitting a record low last week of 150,000 rial to the US dollar. (Shutterstock)
Updated 08 September 2018

Rial’s plunge forces Iran to open door to foreign money

BEIRUT: Iran gave permission to money exchange offices on Saturday to start importing foreign currency banknotes, state media reported, in an apparent attempt to stop the rial from plunging to a new low against the dollar.
Iran’s currency has lost about two-thirds of its value this year, hitting a record low last week of 150,000 rial to the US dollar. It recovered to trade at 130,000 per dollar on Saturday in unofficial trade, according to the Bonbast.com currency market website.
The rial has been hit by a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and strong demand for safe-haven dollars among Iranians.
Many Iranians fear Washington’s pulling out of a 2015 nuclear deal and renewed US sanctions will cut into Iran’s exports of oil and other goods, which would likely put further pressure on the rial.
A set of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry is due to take effect in November.
“Currency exchange offices have been given permission to import currency into the country and they can import currency in the form of bills,” central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Currency exchange offices will also be allowed to import gold, the head of the Iranian Parliament’s economic committee, Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, said on Saturday, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA). Imports of both gold and foreign currency by exchange offices were previously forbidden, he said.
“In the past, this issue was forbidden and any kind of import would be considered contraband,” Pourebrahimi said.
Hemmati, who was appointed central bank governor in July
in an ongoing shakeup of senior Iranian economic officials, made no mention of the decision on gold imports during his comments.


Singapore Airlines drops ‘flights to nowhere’ after outcry

Updated 29 September 2020

Singapore Airlines drops ‘flights to nowhere’ after outcry

  • Several carriers have been offering short flights that start and end at the same airport to raise cash

SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines said Tuesday it had scrapped plans for “flights to nowhere” aimed at boosting its coronavirus-hit finances after an outcry over the environmental impact.
With the aviation industry in deep crisis, several carriers – including in Australia, Japan and Taiwan – have been offering short flights that start and end at the same airport to raise cash.
They are designed for travel-starved people keen to fly at a time of virus-related restrictions, and have proved surprisingly popular.
But Singapore’s flag carrier – which has grounded nearly all its planes and cut thousands of jobs – said it had ditched the idea following a review.
The carrier has come up with alternative ideas to raise revenue, including offering customers tours of aircraft and offering them the chance to dine inside an Airbus A380, the world’s biggest commercial airliner.
Environmental activists had voiced opposition to Singapore Airlines launching “flights to nowhere,” with group SG Climate Rally saying they would encourage “carbon-intensive travel for no good reason.”
“We believe air travel has always caused environmental harm, and it is now an opportune moment for us to think seriously about transitions instead of yearning to return to a destructive status quo.”
The airline said earlier this month it was cutting about 4,300 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, the latest carrier to make massive layoffs.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion this year.
The group also forecasts that global air traffic is unlikely to return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least 2024.