14 bids emerge for stricken French airline, but none ‘feasible’

Aigle Azur airline is in cessation of payments and placed into receivership. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

14 bids emerge for stricken French airline, but none ‘feasible’

  • Aigle Azur operates 11 planes but unions say potential suitors are likely to be most interested in its landing slots at Paris Orly
  • Aigle Azur transported last year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations

PARIS: France’s Aigle Azur airline has received 14 takeover bids as it seeks to stave off a collapse that would put its 1,150 employees out of work, but it said all would have to be improved because they aren’t “feasible” for now.
“These takeover offers for the company all need to be refined and are not feasible in their current form,” the company said late Monday.
Some 13,000 passengers, mainly on the airline’s core Algeria routes, remain stranded after Aigle Azur filed for bankruptcy last week and canceled all flights as of Friday night.
A new works council meeting has been set for Friday, ahead of a court hearing on Monday, to evaluate improved offers due later this week.
Air France, the country’s flag carrier, has tabled an offer, though it declined to elaborate on whether it was for the entire airline or only specific assets.
EasyJet confirmed in had lodged a bid, as has fellow low-cost operator Vueling, union sources said.
The Dubreuil group, which owns Air Caraibes, told AFP it had made a bid, as has Lionel Guerin, the former CEO of Air France’s low-cost subsidiary Hop.
“Obviously there are two main activities: the long-haul flights, which would interest Air Caraibes, and then the core France-Algeria and France-Maghreb operations, which would interest candidates like Air France,” France’s secretary of state for transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, told France Info radio on Monday.
Aigle Azur operates 11 planes but unions say potential suitors are likely to be most interested in its landing slots at Paris Orly, the city’s second-biggest airport, after Charles de Gaulle.
Aigle Azur transported last year some 1.9 million passengers, with destinations in Algeria making up half of its operations that brought in 300 million euros ($329 million) of revenue.


Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

Updated 23 February 2020

Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

DUBAI: Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said said on Sunday the government would work to reduce public debt and restructure public institutions and companies to bolster the economy.
Haitham, in his second public speech since assuming power in January, said the government would create a national framework to tackle unemployment while addressing strained public finances.
"We will direct our financial resources in the best way that will guarantee reducing debt and increasing revenues," he said in the televised speech.
"We will also direct all government departments to adopt efficient governance that leads to a balanced, diversified and sustainable economy."
Rated junk by all three major credit rating agencies, Oman's debt to GDP ratio spiked to nearly 60% last year from around 15% in 2015, and could reach 70% by 2022, according to S&P Global Ratings.
The small oil producing country has relied heavily on debt to offset a widening deficit caused by lower crude prices. Also, the late Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years, held back on austerity measures.
The country has delayed introducing a 5% value added tax from 2019 to 2021, and economic diversification has been slow, with oil and gas accounting for over 70% of government revenues.
Last week, rating agency Fitch said Oman was budgeting for a higher deficit of 8.7% for 2020 despite its expectation of further asset-sale proceeds and some spending cuts.
"We are willing to take the necessary measures to restructure the state's administrative system and its legislation," Haitham said in his first speech since the mourning period for Qaboos ended, without elaborating.
He said there would be a full review of government companies to improve their business performance and competence.
Oman observers have said that if Haitham moves to decentralise power it would signal willingness to improve decision making. Like Qaboos, he holds the positions of finance minister and central bank chairman as well as premier, defence and foreign minister.