BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss
In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, file photo, British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in London. (AP)
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Updated 27 February 2021

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss

BA owner calls for COVID health passes after record $9 billion loss
  • Tighter travel restrictions have threatened to ruin Europe's critical summer season

LONDON: British Airways owner IAG is counting on digital health passes to help spur a travel recovery this summer, after the pandemic pushed it to a record €7.4 billion ($9 billion) loss last year, when it ran just a third of normal flights.

Tighter travel restrictions over the last two months have threatened to ruin Europe’s critical summer season and leave some airlines needing more funding, analysts have warned.
But after taking on new loans, IAG said it had €10.3 billion of liquidity and was well set to ride out the crisis.
“We’ve got very strong liquidity going into 2021 ... so no, we will not need additional funding,” finance chief Steve Gunning told reporters on a call.
European airlines hope travel restrictions will soon be eased to allow them to make money again. Britain on Monday laid out plans for travel markets to possibly reopen from mid-May, prompting a flood of bookings.
IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said if the UK plans went ahead, it would be a “positive summer,” but digital health passes were needed to unlock the market.
“Health passes are going to be the key to restart the aviation and the travel,” said Gallego, who is six months into the job, calling for a digital system that could include test results and proof of vaccination.
Several countries are considering health passports to help revive travel, but are worried about risks to civil liberties. However, Britain’s Heathrow Airport warned this week that dealing with a big rise in passengers would not be possible with current paper-based checks.
IAG shares were up 4 percent at 194 pence in morning trading. They have jumped 13 percent in the last five days, after Britain’s announcement on a travel restart, but over the last 12 months have lost half their value.

Cash burn
The pandemic has already crippled airlines like Norwegian Air, and left major players such as Air France-KLM and Lufthansa relying on state support.
While a recovery is now in sight, there is still much uncertainty.
IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, said it could not give profit guidance for 2021, and asked how many flights it might run this year, Gallego said: “To be honest nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
For January-March, IAG said it expected to fly about 20 percent of 2019’s capacity, compared to the whole of 2020 when it flew at 34 percent of capacity.
IAG’s focus for now is on cutting costs to reduce cash burn. Weekly cash burn fell to €185 million in the first quarter, down 30 million from the previous quarter.
Last October, IAG secured shareholder backing for a €2.74 billion capital hike and Goodbody analysts said it might have to call on investors again.
“With further losses expected this year ... another rights issue can’t be ruled out in the medium term,” they said.
IAG’s operating loss before exceptional items, its preferred measure, came in at €4.37 billion, slightly better than analysts’ consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion loss.


Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
Updated 16 min 41 sec ago

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses

Emirates NBD, Etihad Credit Insurance ink deal to ease trade finance access for UAE businesses
  • The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities

DUBAI: UAE export credit company, Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), has signed an agreement with Emirates NBD to improve liquidity of UAE exporters by easing their access to credit facilities.
The deal will help the UAE lender to reduce any risks that may be associated with credit facilities, so businesses can pursue export and expansion opportunities, according to a joint statement.
More than 80 per cent of world trade relies on trade finance, ECI’s chief Massimo Falcioni said, and the agreement will allow Emirates NBD to offer innovative financial solutions to their clients.
Governments in the Gulf have been investing in strengthening local businesses as a strategy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to gradually veer away from oil-dependence.


Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
Updated 20 min 53 sec ago

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
  • The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers

DUBAI: Italian fashion retailer Diesel has launched its own e-commerce platform for customers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company said on Sunday.
The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers. It will also offer free shipping for customers in both countries.
Diesel has been in the market for four decades and is known for its denim and casual fashion offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge demand for online shopping in the Gulf, with many retailers accelerating their digital efforts to take advantage of it


Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
Updated 18 min 56 sec ago

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
  • The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group
  • COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018

DUBAI: Kuwaiti coffee delivery app COFE has raised $10 million in new funding, which it aims to use to scale up its operations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK and to expand into Egypt and Turkey.
The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group. COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018.
“From its early days, COFE has shown tremendous potential as a unique offering that caters to discerning coffee connoisseurs and their consumption habits, while helping to grow and transform revenue streams for vendors. Our partners have recognized this and are confident in our ability to serve existing customers and vendors, while expanding into new markets,” Al-Ebrahim said in a press statement.
Zev Siegl, a co-founder of international coffee chain Starbucks, is also an adviser to COFE. “I am happy to collaborate with the COFE App team and proud of the success and development they’ve achieved,” Siegl told the Mubasher website in April 2019. “During my stay in Kuwait, I visited more than 20 coffee shops and I was impressed by the high level of service, innovation and the high demand on coffee shops which ensure that the COFE app market will keep on growing and will reach the international market very soon.”


Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
Updated 18 April 2021

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
  • The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force

JERUSALEM: Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defense procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries.
The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defense ministry said.
The training center will be modeled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.
Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece’s T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.
“I am certain that (this program) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels,” said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.
The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.


Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
Updated 18 April 2021

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
  • Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring

DUBAI: Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) said on Sunday it does not expect any “negative impact” from a case against it brought by the administrators of hospital operator NMC Group.
It made the disclosure in a letter to the Dubai Financial Market posted on the website of the bourse.
Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring and potentially delay payouts to creditors, Reuters reported.
It was the latest twist in the tale of the UAE ‘s biggest hospital group which last year disclosed more than $4 billion in hidden debt. Its UAE operations were placed into administration and creditor claims are understood to now exceed $6.4 billion.
“It is a matter of public record that an application has been filed by the administrators of the NMC Group in the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Court, in which Dubai Islamic Bank and 12 insurance companies and third party service providers are respondents,” DIB CEO Hassan Al-Serkal said in the statement to the Dubai financial Market, where it’s shares are listed. “DIB does not anticipate any material negative impact arising from this application. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we can comment further at this time.”