Air Arabia upbeat about summer travel demand, CEO says

Air Arabia upbeat about summer travel demand, CEO says
Ali said it was too early to say if the airline would return to profitability this year after reporting a 192.1 million dirham ($52.30 million) loss in 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 March 2021

Air Arabia upbeat about summer travel demand, CEO says

Air Arabia upbeat about summer travel demand, CEO says
  • Uncertainty remains over the forthcoming season with the pandemic continuing
  • Middle East recovery would initially be driven by regional and short-haul travel

RAS AL KHAIMAH: Middle East budget carrier Air Arabia is optimistic about this year’s summer travel period, expecting more borders to reopen as more people are inoculated against the coronavirus.
Uncertainty remains over the forthcoming season with the pandemic continuing and some governments saying it was too early to ease border restrictions that have badly hit airlines.
“I expect a good summer subject (to the fact that) we don’t get hit with surprises of a third wave or something of that nature,” Air Arabia Chief Executive Adel Ali told reporters at an industry conference in the United Arab Emirates.
“Of course people will not go on holidays if they have to quarantine for two weeks but if it’s open they will,” he said.
Ali said the Middle East recovery would initially be driven by regional and short-haul travel, with pent-up demand to visit friends and family and to go on holiday.
Business travel would take longer to recover, he said.
Ali said it was too early to say if the airline would return to profitability this year after reporting a 192.1 million dirham ($52.30 million) loss in 2020. The airline did, however, make a 20 million dirham fourth quarter profit.
“We are comfortable as a business that we can go through this pandemic, as long as it takes, and get out of it in a very good and strong position,” he said.
Ali said the airline had no current plans to raise debt but discussions with the UAE government about state assistance were continuing.
“A request has been put in for support if need be. That need be has not happened yet. The company is doing well,” Ali said, adding that the airline had no plans to change aircraft order or delivery plans with Airbus.


Bitcoin rises to new record high, trades above $66,000

Bitcoin rises to new record high, trades above $66,000
Updated 12 sec ago

Bitcoin rises to new record high, trades above $66,000

Bitcoin rises to new record high, trades above $66,000

Bitcoin hit a new record on Wednesday, surging past $65,000 after it took another step towards mainstream status as the world's biggest cryptocurrency forayed onto Wall Street.

A bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF), a type of financial instrument, made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

The cryptocurrency soared to $65,778, according to CoinMarketCap.

The Bitcoin Strategy ETF rose nearly five percent in its first day of trading on Tuesday.

The fund should be a more accessible vehicle for mainstream investors, and could therefore boost trading in the cryptocurrency.


SABB, Green Horizons to plant 10,000 trees to support Saudi Green Initiative

SABB, Green Horizons to plant 10,000 trees to support Saudi Green Initiative
Updated 14 min 18 sec ago

SABB, Green Horizons to plant 10,000 trees to support Saudi Green Initiative

SABB, Green Horizons to plant 10,000 trees to support Saudi Green Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi British Bank (SABB) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Green Horizons Environmental Association to carry on environmental activities to support Saudi Green Initiative starting with implementing a national park in Thadiq, Riyadh region, with the participation of SABB’s employees, as part of planting 10,000 trees, according to a statement.

Tony Cripps, Managing Director of SABB added: “I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Kingdom’s pioneering role towards addressing environmental issues such as climate change. We at SABB, under our new 2025 Strategy, are also working towards developing ESG initiatives that speak towards Vision 2030 environmental objectives.”


French-based GeoPost buys 20% of UAE's Aramex for $381.1m

French-based GeoPost buys 20% of UAE's Aramex for $381.1m
Updated 23 min 11 sec ago

French-based GeoPost buys 20% of UAE's Aramex for $381.1m

French-based GeoPost buys 20% of UAE's Aramex for $381.1m

CAIRO: GeoPost, the French parcel delivery company, has acquired 20 percent of the UAE's Aramex for a AED1.4 billion ($381.1 million), according to the Dubai Financial Market statement.

The deal was signed off on Wednesday, today, with 295 million shares trading at a price of 4.77 dirhams per share.

Aramex's revenues increased during the second quarter of 2021 by 21 percent to reach AED1.571 million, compared to AED1.294 million during the same period last year.

GeoPost, owned by France’s Le Groupe La Poste powerful system, delivered 1.9 billion parcels worldwide during 2020, according to the company's website.


Mideast airlines ‘will need 3,000 new planes by 2040’

Mideast airlines ‘will need 3,000 new planes by 2040’
Updated 25 min 15 sec ago

Mideast airlines ‘will need 3,000 new planes by 2040’

Mideast airlines ‘will need 3,000 new planes by 2040’
  • Boeing says regional aviation industry likely to generate 223,000 new jobs

DUBAI: As regional and international travel and cargo demand recover, airlines in the Middle East will require 3,000 new aircraft valued at $700 billion and aftermarket services such as maintenance and repair worth $740 billion, Boeing predicted in a report on Wednesday.
In its 2021 Commercial Market Outlook — a forecast of 20-year demand for commercial airplanes and services — the aerospace company said more than two-thirds of airplane deliveries to the Middle East will accommodate growth, while one-third of deliveries will replace older airplanes with more fuel-efficient models such as the 737 MAX, 787 Dreamliner and 777X.
The report expects the Middle East passenger traffic and commercial fleet to more than double over the forecast period.
“The Middle East’s role as a global connecting hub continues to be important for developing markets to and from Southeast Asia, China, and Africa,” said Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East. 
“The region has been a leader in restoring confident passenger travel through multi-faceted initiatives that aid international travel recovery.”
Airfreight represents an ongoing area of opportunity for Middle East airlines, with the freighter fleet projected to nearly double from 80 airplanes in 2019 to 150 by 2040. 
Air cargo traffic flown by Middle East carriers has increased since 2020 by nearly 20 percent, with two of the world’s top-five cargo carriers based in the region.
According to the report, regional airlines are expected to grow their fleets to 3,530 jets through 2040 to accommodate increased passenger and cargo traffic.
“The region will continue to see robust wide-body demand, with 1,570 deliveries supporting a growing network of international routes,” it added.
The report estimates the current single-aisle fleet of 660 airplanes to nearly triple to 1,750 jets.
Boeing’s 2021 Pilot and Technician Outlook forecasts that the region is estimated to require 223,000 new aviation personnel by 2040, including 54,000 pilots, 51,000 technicians, and 91,000 cabin crew members. 


Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies
Updated 46 min 32 sec ago

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies

Crisis-hit Lebanon hikes fuel prices in de facto end to subsidies
  • Subsidies were gradually phased out over the past few months to shore up diminishing foreign currency reserves at the central bank
  • A revised price list published by the energy ministry set the cost of 20 litres of 95-octane petroleum at 302,700 Lebanese pounds [$15 at the black market rate]

BEIRUT: Lebanon raised fuel prices on Wednesday in a de facto end to state subsidies, pushing the cost of filling a vehicle’s tank to more than the monthly minimum wage in the poverty-stricken nation.
Subsidies were gradually phased out over the past few months to shore up diminishing foreign currency reserves at the central bank, which could no longer fund fuel imports.
A revised price list published by the energy ministry set the cost of 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of 95-octane petroleum at 302,700 Lebanese pounds, or around $15 at the black market rate.
This is around five times the price of 61,100 pounds set at the end of June, adding to the economic pain in a country where power cuts are common and basic goods including medicine have become scarce.
The revised price “marks a complete lifting of petroleum subsidies,” Fadi Abou Chakra of the country’s fuel distributors’ association told AFP.
“The fuel price hike will cause the cost of services to also increase, especially transportation,” he added.
The energy ministry on Wednesday also raised the price of diesel and cooking gas following a drop in the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar on the black market.
The nose-diving pound was selling for around 20,500 pounds to the greenback, its lowest value in months, money exchangers told AFP.
An energy ministry official said that the “latest petroleum prices were calculated on the basis of a currency exchange rate of 20,000 pounds to the dollar as per a central bank request.”
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment on the issue.
The price increases have mostly erased massive queues at gas pumps that clogged streets across the country during the summer when importers and gas station owners severely rationed supply.
To fill a medium-sized vehicle’s tank, Lebanese would now have to pay more than the monthly minimum wage of 675,000 pounds, at a time when nearly 80 percent of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line.
The International Monetary Fund and France are among creditors demanding an audit of the central bank as part of urgent reforms to unlock financial support for Lebanon.
The World Bank has called the country’s economic crisis one of the planet’s worst since the mid-19th century.
Officials said the audit by a New York-based firm resumes on Thursday.