Emirates and Etihad ready to resume transit flights

Resumption of transit services is a major step in returning Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports to normal operations two months after flights were halted. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Emirates and Etihad ready to resume transit flights

  • UAE’s two largest carriers lead the way as hard-hit aviation sector struggles to shake off pandemic paralysis

DUBAI: Emirates and Etihad Airways, the UAE’s two largest carriers, said they will resume transit flights as the country’s key aviation sector slowly emerges from pandemic paralysis.

Dubai-based Emirates said on Thursday it will operate transit flights to 29 destinations by June 15, while Abu Dhabi’s Etihad said it would transit passengers to 20 destinations from June 10.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become key global layover hubs for passengers moving between Asia, Europe and the Americas and the resumption of transit services is an important step toward returning the cities’ two vast and modern airports to normal operations.

It comes more than two months after the UAE stopped all passenger flights in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Foreign citizens without UAE residency remain banned from flying to the country.

Emirates said it would also offer flights to Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.

“Customers can book to fly between destinations in the Asia Pacific and Europe or the Americas, with a convenient connection in Dubai, as long as they meet travel and immigration entry requirements of their destination country,” Emirates said.

Meanwhile, Etihad said transfer connections via Abu Dhabi will now be available from Jakarta, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur,
Manila, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo to
major cities across Europe — including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, London Heathrow, Madrid, Milan, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Zurich.

Other major carriers are also slowly resuming services as some governments discuss the possibility of opening limited “air bridges” to allow for the possibility of overseas vacations.

Virgin Atlantic said on Thursday it would restart some flights that had been grounded with further services planned for August. It said that flights to Orlando and Hong Kong from London Heathrow would resume on July 20. New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Shanghai are set to restart on July 21.

Global aviation body IATA has warned that post-coronavirus fare discounting was delivering an added financial blow to carriers.

“Airlines need cash because of the crisis and they’re seeking to encourage passengers into seats by offering low fares,” said IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce.

Carriers reduced domestic fares by an average 23 percent last month according to IATA.


HSBC profit slump adds to bank sector coronavirus woes

Updated 04 August 2020

HSBC profit slump adds to bank sector coronavirus woes

  • London-based bank reports massive slump in net profit, plans to slash 35,000 jobs

LONDON: HSBC on Monday reported a 69-percent slump in net profit, joining a number of major banks whose earnings have been slammed by the coronavirus fallout.

HSBC announced earnings of $3.1 billion compared with almost $10 billion in the first 6 months of 2019, as spiraling China-US tensions also hurt the British-based but Asia-focused lender.

Alongside HSBC results, top French bank Societe Generale on Monday announced a second quarter loss of more than €1 billion as the pandemic forced it to set aside more provisions against bad loans. UK banks Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest all last week reported huge financial hits linked to the pandemic’s fallout.

But there have been some bright spots, with French bank BNP Paribas weathering the coronavirus storm in the second quarter with only a small dip in net profits thanks to a surge in investment banking.

Credit Suisse meanwhile saw net profit jump almost a quarter in the April-June period, also on investment banking gains.

HIGHLIGHT

$1 BILLION - Alongside HSBC results, top French bank Societe Generale on Monday announced a second-quarter loss of more than €1 billion as the pandemic forced it to set aside more provisions against bad loans.

“HSBC has done little to lift investors’ spirits as it brings the curtain down on what has been a costly half-year reporting season for banks in general,” noted Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

Even though banks “are much better prepared for this economic onslaught than during the financial crisis of over a decade ago ... the immediate outlook is bleak,” he added.

HSBC said that its pre-tax profit slid 64 percent to $4.3 billion in the first half while revenue was down 9 percent at $26.7 billion.

The figures missed analyst forecasts and the bank also raised its estimate for 2020 loan losses to $13 billion from $8 billion.

CEO Noel Quinn described the first 6 months of the year as “some of the most challenging in living memory.” He added: “Our first-half performance was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, falling interest rates, increased geopolitical risk and heightened levels of market volatility.”

Even by the standards of the current economic maelstrom engulfing global banks, HSBC has had a torrid time.

Before the coronavirus crisis it was beset by disappointing profit growth, ground down by US-China trade war uncertainties and Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The London-headquartered bank embarked on a huge cost-cutting initiative at the start of the year, including plans to slash about 35,000 jobs as well as trimming fat from less profitable divisions, primarily in the United States and Europe.

The coronavirus upended some of that cost-cutting drive with banks hammered by market volatility and the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

But HSBC has a further headache — geopolitical tensions via its status as a major business conduit between China and the West.

HSBC makes 90 percent of its profit in Asia, with China and Hong Kong being the major drivers of growth.

As a result it has found itself more vulnerable than most to the crossfire caused by the increasingly bellicose relationship between Beijing and Washington.

The bank has tried to stay in Beijing’s good graces. It vocally backed a draconian national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in June to end a year of unrest and pro-democracy protests. The move sparked criticism in Washington and London but analysts saw it as an attempt to protect its access to China, which has a track record of punishing businesses that do not toe Beijing’s line.

But that has not shielded it from Beijing’s wrath. Quinn referenced the bank’s growing political vulnerability in Monday’s results statement.

“Current tensions between China and the US inevitably create challenging situations for an organization with HSBC’s footprint,” he said.

“However, the need for a bank capable of bridging the economies of East and West is acute, and we are well placed to fulfil this role,” he added.