Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road

Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road
More than 1.8 million people went through US airports on Thursday, and the daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend.
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Updated 30 May 2021

Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road

Travel numbers climb as Americans hit the road
  • The rise appears to be fueled by an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations

WASHINGTON: Americans hit the road in near-record numbers at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, as their eagerness to break free from coronavirus confinement overcame higher prices for flights, gasoline and hotels.

More than 1.8 million people went through US airports on Thursday, and the daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend, which would be the highest mark since early March 2020.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned people to expect long lines at airports and appealed for travelers to be patient.

The rise in travel appears to be fueled by an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations as well as an improving economy. 

At Miami International Airport, officials expected crowds equal to pre-pandemic levels. It was a similar story in Orlando, where airport traffic has reached 90 percent of 2019 levels as tourists flocked to theme parks that have recently loosened restrictions.

Along the Florida coasts and around Orlando, many hotels were booked solid through the weekend.

“We are going into off-season, and it has not slowed down,” said Cathy Balestriere, general manager of Crane’s Beach House, a boutique hotel in Delray Beach, Florida.

Vacation destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaii and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, were among the top destinations for holiday revelers, according to AAA. Paula Twidale, a spokeswoman for the auto club and insurer, said the pickup in travel began in April as more Americans got vaccinated and the weather improved.

Virginia, where President Joe Biden traveled to tout his administration’s efforts to contain the virus, has eased all distancing and capacity restrictions. 

Hotels and other lodging in beach and mountain areas are expecting bigger crowds than those in cities. Lou Carrier, the president of Distinctive Hospitality Group, said the company's two hotels in tourist towns in Connecticut have seen a jump in bookings since the state loosened its mask requirements two weeks ago, but occupancy is still only around 20 percent at its three hotels in Boston.

Hotel room rates nationally jumped 9 percent in April after an 8 percent rise in March, and airfares soared 10 percent in April, according to the latest available figures from the Commerce Department.

That is not stopping people from getting on planes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has screened nearly 1.6 million people a day this month, up from 224,000 a day in May 2020 but still down one-third from the same time in 2019. TSA officials said this week they have hired enough new screeners to handle the crowds.

Business travelers and international visitors are still mostly absent, however, and airlines are eager to see that lucrative business return.


CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m
Updated 56 min 12 sec ago

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m
  • Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output
  • The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities

RIYADH: The U.S. government has arrested Mark Gyetvay, the deputy chairman of the management board of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, on federal tax charges for more than $93 million hidden in offshore accounts, according to the IRS statement.


The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities, adding that it isn’t involved in related litigation, the company said in WSJ about Mr. Gyetvay’s case.


Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output, WSJ said.


The arrest of Gyetvay, comes as Russia wrestles with European regulatory challenges to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running along the bed of the Baltic Sea, seen by opponents as a geopolitical tool, Nord Stream 2 will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, WSJ added.


Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 September 2021

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
  • A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal
  • The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has selected Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to provide financial advice to the company in a $17-20 billion gas asset sale, CNBC Arabia reported, citing sources.

A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal, after Asian sovereign funds, primarily sovereign wealth funds from China, South Korea, and Singapore, entered negotiations the CNBC source said.

The American Brookfield Fund, which won the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) gas pipeline deal last year, is among potential investors.

The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal, which was won by a coalition of investors led by EIG Global Energy, the source added.

The sources explained that the deal will be financed using $4 billion of issued shares, while the rest of the deal will be financed through loans from a group of banks.


PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
A common residential area built above on the desert near the corniche park in the Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 September 2021

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
  • It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom
  • The company expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market”

DUBAI: The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company has signed its second housing finance portfolio purchase with Banque Saudi Fransi.

The company, which is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market.”

“We have illustrated to primary originators in the Kingdom the crucial role we play in developing the housing market and supporting their businesses through liquidity and risk management solutions,” SRC chief Fabrice Susini said.

It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom, as SRC seeks to promote stability in the real estate finance market. 

“SRC has played a vital role in ensuring that the Vision 2030 housing program objectives are being met and we expect ourselves to play a significant role in this by supporting them,” Rayan Fayez, managing director and chief executive officer of BSF, said.


Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 September 2021

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO

Bahrain’s Investcorp set to be a $100bn company in 7 years: CEO
  • Although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp
  • The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan

Bahrani investment company Investcorp has ambitious plans to be a 100-billion-dollar company in seven years, its chief Mohammed Al-Ardhi said, saying the company is currently valued at nearly $40 billion.

“We believe in about seven years we can get there [through] acquisitions, organic growth, joint ventures, [these] are things that we have done and we will continue to do,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We operate in America, North America and Europe, in the Gulf and in Asia. America and Europe are 80 percent of our markets at the moment,” Al-Ardhi added.

The company is currently pursuing a five-year growth plan.

“Obviously it is about changing our model for many years. We have served the retail investors in the deal-by-deal model. We would like to change that. So, we target sustainable capital, institutional capital,” he said.

“The structure of going private (delisting) is the right thing for us to do now as we prepare the company for the next stage of its growth,” he added.

Al-Ardhi added although America continues to be their biggest market, Asia is going to be very important in the future Investcorp.

“The growth that is happening on the scale that it is happening there is just something you cannot ignore. We started our businesses in India two years ago and in China, we have offices in both of these countries and in Singapore. In China, we have concentrated on the consumer, on technology, on food. In India, we have concentrated financial services on the consumers and health care,” he said.

“We see a lot of growth there and we see a lot of appetite of our investors to actually -whether retail or institutional- to get the opportunities that we can bring in India and China and Southeast Asia,” Al-Ardhi added.


Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
Updated 26 September 2021

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund

Jadwa Investment eyes luxury Riyadh complex through new $98m REIT fund
  • The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.
  • The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million)

DUBAI: Advisory firm Jadwa Investment has launched the second offering of its real estate investment trust (REIT) Saudi fund to acquire a luxury retail and office complex in Riyadh.

The offering is expected to raise equity of SR370 million ($98.6 million), which will be used to purchase “The Boulevard.”

The Riyadh development consists of high-end office spaces, as well as a retail space with a hotel and a gym.

Once acquired, the complex will become one of the fund’s flagship properties, representing 13.4 percent of its assets. It is expected to generate a net rental income of SR29.6 million annually.

“We are pleased to offer our existing and potential clients the opportunity to invest in Jadwa REIT Saudi at an attractive price and to gain exposure to prime real estate assets across Saudi Arabia,” Tariq Al-Sudairy, chief executive officer and managing director of Jadwa Investment, said.

The Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund is a closed-end, Shariah-compliant fund with a term of 99 years and total gross assets value of SR2.19 billion.

The acquisition will push the fund’s assets by 16.9 percent to SR2.56 billion.