Ryanair cuts 2020 passenger forecast, fearing Boeing MAX delays

A Ryanair aeroplane prepares to land at Dublin airport in Dublin, Ireland. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 July 2019

Ryanair cuts 2020 passenger forecast, fearing Boeing MAX delays

  • The stock has fallen about 4 percent so far this year, hit by over-capacity and intense competition in Europe’s short-haul aviation market

LONDON: Europe’s largest budget airline Ryanair has cut its forecast for passenger numbers next summer, blaming possible further delays in deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX planes.
The Irish company said the move would also impact jobs as it would close or make cuts at the some of its bases for the winter 2019 and summer 2020 schedules.
The airline now expects to carry 3 percent more passengers next summer, down from its previous forecast of 7 percent. That reduces its traffic estimate for the year to March 2021 to around 157 million from 162 million.
Boeing’s top-selling jet was grounded in March after crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed a total of 346 people. The planemaker is working on a software fix that people close to the matter have said it hopes to present to regulators in September.
Ryanair expects the 737 MAX to return to service before the end of the year, with the first of new planes it has ordered to be delivered in January and February 2020. But the exact date is uncertain and Ryanair has revised its summer 2020 schedule based on 30 additional aircraft, rather than 58.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Cuts summer 2020 passenger growth forecast.

• To cut or close some bases for winter 2019, summer 2020.

• Expects 737 to return to service before year-end.

“Boeing is hoping that a certification package will be submitted to regulators by September with a return to service shortly thereafter,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in a statement.
“We believe it would be prudent to plan for that date to slip by some months, possibly as late as December,” he said.
“As Ryanair have ordered the Boeing MAX200s, which are a variant of the MAX aircraft, these need to be separately certified by the FAA and EASA,” he added, referring to US and European aviation regulators respectively.
“Ryanair expects that the MAX200 will be approved for flight services within 2 months of the MAX return to service.”
Ryanair said it would start discussions with airports to determine which of its underperforming or loss-making bases would be cut or closed from November 2019. The airline said it would also consult unions.
Ryanair shares were up 1.2 percent in early trading. The stock has fallen about 4 percent so far this year, hit by over-capacity and intense competition in Europe’s short-haul aviation market.


Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

Updated 17 January 2020

Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

  • Leaders agree initial $6.8bn projects plan, including initiative to build a replica of Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s business community on Thursday welcomed the UAE’s pledge to pump tens of billions of dollars into a wide range of key sector projects.

President Joko Widodo and his entourage secured an overall $22.9 billion deal during an official two-day visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week covering the fields of energy, logistics, port construction, mining, and agriculture.

It was also revealed that the delegation brokered a UAE commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

At a bilateral meeting, the Indonesian leader and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan witnessed the signing of 11 business accords between the two countries. Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said the UAE had committed to investing $6.8 billion out of the total agreed spending package into the initiatives.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, described the UAE’s pledges as possibly being “the biggest deals in Indonesia’s history, secured with the UAE within only six months,” referring to the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia last July.

While most lauded the deal, some Indonesian business leaders remained cautious over the long-term prospects for the projects.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee and OIC at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the schemes could trigger a wide-ranging domino effect through job creation and other business ventures.

“The government needs to have a strong lobbying team that can follow up these deals and push them into investment realizations. We have had such commitments from other Gulf countries, but there was no further lobbying and the pledges were hardly realized,” he told Arab News.

Zaini Alawi, a businessman who exports and imports between Indonesia and the Middle East, said: “It would set a good precedent to attract other Gulf countries to invest here if Indonesia shows it could aptly manage these investment deals.”

Director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Achmad Rizal Purnama, told Arab News that the $6.8 billion commitment from the UAE was only the first phase of a long-term program.

Widodo and the crown prince also witnessed the signing of five government cooperation agreements in health, agriculture, Islamic affairs, and counterterrorism.

Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said one of the main aspects of the cooperation agreement would be the promotion of religious moderation and raising awareness of the dangers of extremism.

FASTFACT

The UAE has pledged to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

Noting that the UAE had pledged to fund the construction of a replica of the Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Solo, the president’s hometown in Java, the minister pointed out that the grant was part of a commitment by the two countries to establish a mosque that welcomed all people and served a pivotal role in promoting the middle path of Islam.

Riza Widyarsa, a Middle East expert at the University of Indonesia, told Arab News that the cooperation deal could help more Indonesians to understand that not all countries in the Middle East observed conservative Islam. “They are also very active in countering religious extremism and radicalism,” he said.

In addition to the multi-billion-dollar projects, Purnama said Indonesia had also secured the UAE’s commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund into which the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Japan’s SoftBank would inject funding.

And according to Pandjaitan, the UAE had pledged to be “the biggest contributor” to the fund.

The fund would be used to finance Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure development projects and the construction of its proposed new capital in East Kalimantan, a relocation that has been estimated to cost $33 billion and of which Indonesia could only afford 19 percent.

He said all parties involved would meet in Tokyo soon to set up the structure of the fund and to finalize the plan, which the government expected to launch by mid-2020, a year after the crown prince proposed the idea to Widodo.

“This could be the first time that big capitalists work together in a single project,” Pandjaitan added.