Paris trumps Heathrow as Europe’s busiest airport

London Heathrow has slashed its demand forecast for the next two years due to resurgent COVID-19 infections and ongoing restrictions. (AFP)
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Updated 28 October 2020

Paris trumps Heathrow as Europe’s busiest airport

  • Outlook for next year slashed as pandemic continues to crush demand for flying

LONDON: Britain’s Heathrow Airport slashed the outlook for next year’s passenger numbers as the pandemic continues to crush demand for flying, and said it was no longer the busiest airport in Europe, ceding its long-held crown to Paris.

Heathrow on Wednesday said it now expected 37 million people to travel through the airport in 2021, lowering an earlier forecast made in June by 41 percent when it guided that 63 million passengers would use it.

The airport said that during the pandemic, Paris Charles de Gaulle had overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s busiest airport, blaming the UK government for not bringing in an airport testing regime to help kick-start travel.

This will be a blow to Britain’s global trade ambitions just at a time when it most needs connectivity with the rest of the world, two months ahead of the end of its current relationship with the European Union.

Britain has said it will bring in airport testing by the beginning of December, but Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said it should go further and agree a deal to allow travel between Heathrow and the US.

“Bringing in pre-departure COVID tests and partnering with our US allies to open a pilot airbridge to America will kick-start our economic recovery and put the UK back ahead of our European rivals,” he said in a statement.

Tightening travel restrictions this autumn have hit airlines and airports, ruining hopes for a recovery.

Heathrow said the pandemic pushed it to a £1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) loss in the first nine months of the year on passenger numbers which were down 84 percent in the three months to the end of September.

But the company said its liquidity position was strong and it had sufficient cash reserves for the next 12 months even if travel stopped completely.

The airport is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp. among others.


Saudi central bank governor expects more competition, growth in fintech

Updated 01 December 2020

Saudi central bank governor expects more competition, growth in fintech

  • SAMA issued several regulations and systems related to fintech, as part of its efforts to promote the sector

DUBAI: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) expects more competition and growth in the new sectors such as financial technology (fintech), as well as the conventional industries of the capital market, including banks, said Governor Ahmed Alkholeify.

Speaking during the opening session of “Fintech Tour 2020”, the SAMA governor stated that the central bank took a key step towards activating the Sandbox experimental environment, which resulted in the establishment of 32 fintech firms.

In addition, SAMA issued several regulations and systems related to fintech, as part of its efforts to promote the sector and achieve the targets of the financial sector development program, he added.

Meanwhile, Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman, Capital Market Authority (CMA) highlighted the importance of innovation in fintech-related solutions in the capital market, adding that fintech enables the capital market to capitalize and reach out to more segments of companies and investors who previously had no access to the capital market.

"This technology has successfully delivered services to the largest possible number of people. We are excited about what fintech can provide for the capital market in terms of broadening its base of participants and beneficiaries."

El-Kuwaiz also indicated that fintech solutions are innovative by nature, and hence require tailored regulatory frameworks.

The CMA continues to motivate and enable entrepreneurs, with three rounds of licensing fintech companies completed, resulting in licensing of 15 firms in various domains, the chairman stated.

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