IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines

IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines
Governments should consider providing support to airlines to help them manage the impact of the coronavirus, the airline body IATA has said. (AFP)
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Updated 03 March 2020

IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines

IATA calls on Middle East governments to help airlines

ABU DHABI: Middle East governments should consider providing support to airlines to help them manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to a raft of flight cancelations, the industry’s largest global body said on Monday.

Global airlines have warned of the toll on their business as passenger numbers fall due to the outbreak that first emerged in China in late December and has since spread to more than 50 countries.

Airlines have stopped flights to Iran, where the virus is rapidly spreading, and Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned tourists from 25 countries that have recorded cases the virus.

“The region depends on air connectivity, and support from governments will really help the airlines to get through this difficult period,” the International Air Transport Association’s Vice President for Africa and the Middle East Muhammad Ali Albakri said.

Albakri said that IATA was not calling for state bailouts, but that governments could help airlines with their operating costs.

Governments control a number of costs incurred by airlines, such as taxes and landing and overflight fees.

Most Middle East airlines are state-owned. In the past major Gulf carriers have come under scrutiny over allegations they
unfairly benefited from state funds, a charge they deny.

Albakri said that he did not expect other jurisdictions to criticize support given to airlines due to the coronavirus.

Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest carrier, is asking its staff to take paid and unpaid leave to help it manage a “measurable slowdown” due to the virus.

Air ticket sales to, from, and within the Middle East are seen dropping over the next few weeks, and airlines in the region stand to lose about $100 million in revenue at this stage, AlBakri said.

Middle Eastern carriers, most of which are unprofitable, have stopped most flights to China and cut or reduced flights on other Asian routes.

“Significant additional revenue is at risk to the Middle East carriers if the travel restrictions spread further to the rear of Asia Pacific,” Albakri said.

Roughly 50 percent of all Middle East airline capacity is flown on services to and from Asia Pacific, he said, highlighting the considerable risk to their business. 


Saudi ministry sets up new firm to help generate investment in Asir region

Saudi ministry sets up new firm to help generate investment in Asir region
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi ministry sets up new firm to help generate investment in Asir region

Saudi ministry sets up new firm to help generate investment in Asir region
  • Asir Municipality Co. to support municipality business activities in Asir
  • Secretary of Asir region, Walid Al-Humaidi, was named as the chairman of the new firm

Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Majid Al-Hogail, has issued directives to set up Asir Municipality Co. to support municipality business activities in Asir.

Secretary of Asir region, Walid Al-Humaidi, was named as the chairman of the new firm.

The new firm, which will be solely owned by the municipality, will help to provide many investments as well as development opportunities in partnership with the private sector in municipal, services and entertainment fields after thorough studies and in line with the nature of the region.

According to the municipality, the new company will boost the quality of services, in light of Saudi Vision 2030, follow up and develop the ongoing projects, in addition to setting up mega tourist destinations. It will also play a significant role in the introduction of municipality services and the implementation of mega development projects.

Additionally, Al-Hogail issued directives as regards forming the new company’s constituent board, which will include representatives from the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Asir Development Authority in addition to two businessmen.