Eight hour airport queues? Welcome to your 2021 summer holidays

Eight hour airport queues? Welcome to your 2021 summer holidays
A terminal at Heathrow Airport mothballed because of the coronavirus pandemic has reopened Tuesday, June 1 for passengers arriving from high-risk countries. (AP)
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Updated 03 June 2021

Eight hour airport queues? Welcome to your 2021 summer holidays

Eight hour airport queues? Welcome to your 2021 summer holidays
  • If traffic fully returns to normal, the IATA estimates people could spend up to eight hours getting to their planes and back out at their destinations

PARIS: A year after the coronavirus pandemic emptied airports, air travel associations fear chaos during Europe’s summer holiday season as travelers could wait hours before boarding planes due to health checks.
Strict controls are still in place at most European airports even though vaccination campaigns are making progress and infection rates are falling.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported last week that on average, people traveling at peak times now stay twice as long at airports — three hours — compared with 2019.
That time is generally spent checking in, passing security and immigration controls, picking up checked bags and making it through customs. And there’s the new reality: Airlines having to check passengers’ Covid tests, temperature and other health documents.
The wait time has increased even though the volume of traffic is “only about 30 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels,” an IATA statement said.
The sector lobby group warned that time spent in airports could swell to five hours and 30 minutes if traffic rebounds to 75 percent of its pre-pandemic level, and even longer “without process improvements.”
If traffic fully returns to normal, the IATA estimates people could spend up to eight hours getting to their planes and back out at their destinations.
Such a nightmare scenario may not come to pass: The European branch of Airports Control International (ACI Europe) expects 125 million people to travel by air in August, almost half the level recorded two years earlier.
Eurocontrol, the organization tasked with air navigation security on the continent, forecasts the level in August to be between 46 and 69 percent of that in August 2019, depending on how the health crisis plays out in the next two months.
Eurocontrol set its median level at 57 percent.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate — showing whether a traveler was vaccinated, has immunity from a previous infection or passed a coronavirus test — will be rolled out on July 1 in an effort to make travel smoother within the 27-nation bloc.
The health checks have made flying more complicated after the industry made efforts in recent years to reduce travel hassles by scrapping paper tickets and using online check-in or automatic identity controls.
“The level of both uncertainty and complexity in planning for the restart is just mind blowing for now,” said ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec, whose association represents 500 airports on the continent.
“With each passing day, the prospect of travelers enduring widespread chaos at airports this summer is becoming more real.”
Verification of Covid tests, passenger location forms and quarantine documents “vary depending on their point of origin and destination, based on rules which remain largely unaligned and unstable across Europe,” ACI Europe noted.
In France, border police now systematically check identity papers, even for passengers within the Schengen passport-free travel zone, and machines that do it automatically have been shut down.
Airport authorities are focused meanwhile on keeping passengers moving, in particular at inspection points aimed at detecting potentially dangerous objects and liquids.
Immigration control remains under the state’s authority.
“At the top of my list of concerns are talks with the interior ministry on how to keep this summer from becoming an apocalypse in terms of passenger delays,” said Augustin de Romanet, head of the Paris airport group ADP.
A French airport source was less alarmed, however.
“Certain kinds of measures will be eased ... That is what the European health certificate is for, it will ease travel and eliminate the health control phase on three-quarters of flights,” said the source, who requested anonymity.
In addition, “given the volume of traffic, which is not huge, and that not as many airport terminals will be operating, it should not pose a problem” for those who manage the flow of passengers, the source added.
Noting the stiff competition between European airports, the source suggested that “ADP and the airlines are sounding the alarm to put pressure on the French government” for lighter health measures.


Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 
Updated 25 January 2022

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

RIYADH: The Red Sea Development Co., achieved another milestone in its journey to develop the world's largest sustainable tourism project. 

The Saudi developer, known as TRSDC, was awarded the Environmental Management Standard, ISO 14001:2015 accreditation.

TRSDC’s Environmental Management System was developed as the company launched the EMS manual in January 2021, it said in a statement. 

With respect to the environment, the EMS aimed at guiding and managing TRSDC’s activities throughout design, construction, and operational stages of the project.

“We made a commitment to ourselves, our project and to the Kingdom to go beyond the current expectations of environmental best practice, to deliver a regenerative approach to tourism development,” CEO, John Pagano, said. 

“Achieving this certification is rewarding for our team, who work tirelessly to deliver against our commitments to the environment in which we are working,” said Raed Albasseet, the chief environment and sustainability officer.

TRSDC is developing an area over 28,000 square kilometres on the West Coast of Saudi Arabia. 

Recently, it closed a SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) term loan facility and revolving credit facility with four Saudi banks.

Last year, it was one of the first companies in the Middle East to achieve the ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality management for design and construction of assets, as well as a Green Financing accreditation.


Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project
Updated 25 January 2022

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Rio Tinto, a Toronto listed mining group, is once again going ahead with its most important growth project, the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia.

The project began after the company reached an agreement with the government of Mongolia, and solved key issues hindering the $7 billion expansion of the project.

On Jan. 25, an underground caving process was launched, which means that the mine will start production in the first half of next year.

Rio Tinto had previously refused to start the undercut until it ended its dispute with the Mongolian government. Rio Tinto-controlled subsidiary company Turquoise Hill Resources, which owns the majority of the Oyu Tolgoi project, has been fighting with Ulan Batur for years over how to split the cost of an underground expansion that is more than $1 billion over budget and several years late.  

Rio Tinto and its subsidiary have agreed to write off $2.4 billion of loans and interest used by the Mongolian Government to fund its share of the development costs, according to the Financial Times. The government will let the company extend an existing deal to import power from China to at least 2026, followed by another extension until 2030 if a domestic energy source is not made available, according to the newspaper.

“The size and the complexity [of the project] requires an aligned way forward, and we haven’t had that for years, I have to admit,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said in an interview quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “So it is a big, big step forward.”

Rio has mined copper from an open pit mine at Oyu Tolgoi for a decade. Given that much of the deposit lies deeper below the Earth’s surface, it has been difficult for the company to reach the ore.

Once at full speed, the Oyu Tolgoi project will be one of the biggest copper mines in the world, producing at peak capacity 500,000 tons a year of the metal. It will also double Rio’s copper division output, according to the Financial Times


Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif
Updated 25 January 2022

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

RIYADH: The Tourism Development Fund will invest more than SR300 million ($80 million) in the Saudi city of Taif, which is located in the western part of the Kingdom, in a bid to attract visitors.

The TDF, a goverment-run organisation fund that aims to strengthen the tourism sector has formed a strategic partnership with the distinguished Al-Ameen Compan.

It will see the development of a hotel with approximately 150 hotel units, retail and entertainment facilities, with additional space for a large outdoor corridor and designated spaces for local and international shops in the area.

The 100,000 square kilometre project reflects a modern concept in shopping by integrating the retail sector and leisure activities.

The project reflects the Fund's commitment to developing emerging tourist areas within the framework of the National Tourism Strategy, Qusay Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Tourism Development Fund said.

He added that it will highlight Taif's distinct and promising potentials, including its mild climate and agricultural sector and enhance the region's attractiveness through world-class tourism facilities.


Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says
Updated 25 January 2022

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PIF, has selected the global consulting firm PwC as an advisor on six renewable energy projects, including wind and solar plants. 

The projects will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, CNBC Arabia reported, citing banking resources. 

This comes in line with the sovereign fund’s plan to transform the Kingdom into a green economy and diversify its energy mix. 

With a total capacity of around 2.3 gigawatts, the PIF will start financing the second phase of renewable energy projects that it is working on in collaboration with local companies, CNBC Arabia reported. 

The new phase of projects includes the Shoaiba power plant, with two gigawatts of energy from renewable resources and a production capacity of 900 megawatts, CNBC reported citing an informed source. 

Established in 1988, London-based PwC is a one of the Big Four accounting firms that offers business advisory services. 

 


Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   
Updated 25 January 2022

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Vaar Energi, the third biggest oil producer in Norway, is planning an Oslo stock market listing and to raise capital through two private placements.

The initial public offereing could, depending on its size and market value, be the largest oil and gas listing since Aramco raised $25.6 billion at a $1.7 trillion valuation during its IPO in 2019, according to the Financial Times, quoting data provider Dealogic.

The company, which is valued at between $10 billion-$15 billion, had an average production of 247,000 barrels per day during the third quarter.

The group, which is about 70 percent owned by Eni with the rest owned by HitecVision is looking at institutional investors but Eni intends to remain the majority shareholder after the listing. DNB, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and SpareBank 1 are acting as joint global coordinators for the IPO.

“We believe oil and gas will continue to be part of the energy mix for decades to come. The current gas market developments in Europe confirm our view that a reliable and safe supply of natural gas from Norway will be crucial,” said CEO Torger Roed.

Norway is western Europe’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. The company sees the Norwegian continental shelf as one of the most appealing regions for exploration and production globally, thanks to cost competitive and stable regulatory environments as well as low emissions.

Yet recent IPO have faced hurdles as investors insist on sustainability. Vaar Energi wants to achieve zero carbon emissions in its own production by 2030. It is also looking to boost its production to 350,000 bpd by 2025.