How Boeing 787 helps Middle East airlines to grow more sustainably post-pandemic

How Boeing 787 helps Middle East airlines to grow more sustainably post-pandemic
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Updated 11 November 2021

How Boeing 787 helps Middle East airlines to grow more sustainably post-pandemic

How Boeing 787 helps Middle East airlines to grow more sustainably post-pandemic

RIYADH/LONDON: As US aircraft maker Boeing finishes celebrating the tenth anniversary of its landmark 787 Dreamliner, it now weighs up what the easing of the pandemic will mean for air travel across the Middle East and the rest of the world.

More sustainable aviation is a big focus of the company as more passengers are questioning their business travel requirements, and more of them are concerned about cutting emissions as many countries are racing this year to set their net zero carbon targets.

In the Middle East and Africa, the 171 787 Dreamliner aircraft, operated by 14 airlines, are already helping the region grow, while keeping the skies clean, Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East and Africa told Arab News ahead of Dubai Air Show that starts next week.

The 787 has helped Middle East and African airlines open 74 new point-to-point routes to and from the region to date.

The Dreamliner has also helped airlines in the Middle East and Africa save 130 million barrels of fuel and related CO2 emissions, while reducing fuel use and emissions by 20 to 25 percent compared to airplanes they replace, he added.

The reduction in fuel use and emissions is even more substantial when the 787 replaces a four-engine passenger airplane such as the A380, A340 or 747.

It should be said that there is always the risk that compounded overall industry growth would negate such benefits however - something environmentalists pointed to before the pandemic impacted airlines so profoundly.

“Following a decade of above-trend traffic growth, Covid 19 has presented challenges never seen before in the aviation industry including many that remain today."

Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East and Africa

Net Zero Carbon

For its part, Boeing backs the airline industry commitment to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It has spent more than $60 billion over the last 10 years to improve its green operations on measures such as operational efficiencies, renewable energy and new technology.

These moves range from green hydrogen fuel development, to a joint venture with California firm Wisk, which has built a self-flying, all-electric air taxi that has made more than 1,500 flight tests.




Randy Heisey, Boeing managing director of commercial marketing for the Middle East and Africa

Coming out of pandemic

Heisey is clear that Covid 19 restrictions that closed airports last year were measures the aviation industry had “never seen before”, but believes the sector is poised to get moving again.

He says: “Following a decade of above-trend traffic growth, Covid 19 has presented challenges never seen before in the aviation industry including many that remain today.

“While current market conditions remain dynamic, the past year has proven that when there is confidence in the health and safety in air travel, and when conditions allow governments to re-open borders, demand is resilient.”

Heisey adds: “Demand for domestic air travel is leading the recovery, with intra-regional markets expected to follow as health and travel restrictions ease, followed by long-haul travel’s return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 to 2024.”

The plane maker’s head of marketing in the Middle East adds that airlines in the region have begun to recover towards pre-pandemic levels.

He adds that the number of flights to, from and within the region, has steadily increased to hit 69% of pre-pandemic levels, nearing the global average of 72%.

Heisey says: “Many airlines in the region remain in strong positions to capitalize on the recovery of international travel, leveraging the region’s position as key hubs between Europe and Asia.”

In May, flag-carrier Saudia, resumed flights to 43 destinations in 30 countries after more than a year since it suspended operations. The airline added it planned to run 178 scheduled flights each week from Jeddah and 153 from Riyadh.

Long haul recovery

But the global airline industry is in no doubt of the long haul it faces to recovery.

Last month, trade body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it expected world airlines to cut losses to $11.6 billion this year, after a $51.8 billion loss in 2021.

It forecast passenger numbers will hit 2.3 billion this year, adding: “This will grow to 3.4 billion in 2022 which is similar to 2014 levels and significantly below the 4.5 billion travellers of 2019.”

IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “Over the 2020-2022 period total losses could top $200 billion. To survive airlines have dramatically cut costs and adapted their business to whatever opportunities were available.”

But the former chief executive of British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group added: “We are well past the deepest point of the crisis. While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view.”

Boeing’s Heisey said that its 787 Dreamliner, which was the world’s first all-composite commercial airliner has served the firm well during the health crisis and will do so during the recovery.

The plane’s lighter composite alloy frame, rather than metal, makes it up to 25 percent more fuel-efficient than rivals it replaces. 

When the plane began commercial flights in 2011 it also boasted larger windows, spacious interiors and more comfortable cabin humidity that set new air travel standards. It has carried 577 million passengers over the last decade.

This led it to become the fastest-selling widebody airline in history, with more than 1,490 orders from over 80 customers, outselling rival A330neo and A350 models from Europe’s Airbus.

Heisey said: “During the pandemic, airlines around the world have had to decide which airplanes to continue operating based on their value. More often than not, the 787 was the airplane they wanted to keep in service.”

He added that the Middle East is set for aircraft industry growth as the health crisis eases.

Ongoing competition

The Boeing head said the region has placed orders for 1,570 of its various widebody planes, as nations expand their international networks, adding that these deliveries are the highest proportion of large planes for any region at 44%.

However, observers say the Dreamliner will face stiff competition from newer rivals such as Airbus’ capable single-aisle jet the A321neo.

Saudia has operated every Boeing commercial model, including 33 777 planes and 18 787 Dreamliners, with three more on order.

Heisey said: “Fleet expansion will boost tourism and its allied sectors, generate substantial employment opportunities, significantly improve air connectivity and enhance the flow of foreign investments. We at Boeing are already on the path of aligning with Vision 2030, especially in the area of promoting local industry.”

Boeing seems to have a hand in all areas of the aviation market and declares itself ready to ride air travel’s recovery, whatever form that takes.

 


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Amid talks on potential collaborations, Masdar and Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement, or KAIA, said they aim to close a deal next month.

This is in line with a wider agreement that was signed in 2019 between both nations, the UAE and South Korea, to strengthen bilateral relations.

The announcement came during the fourth edition of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week which started on Jan. 15 and will end today.

 


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The executive regulations for the law are currently being prepared to be issued in January 2022, CNBC Arabia reported earlier this month, citing the head of the debt unit at the ministry of finance. 


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Image: Shutterstock
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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main stock index was up on Wednesday to its highest close since 2006, continuing its rally from last week amid heightened investor sentiment.

At the closing bell, TASI edged 0.5 percent higher to 12,260 points, while the parallel Nomu market added 0.4 percent to reach 26,158 points.

Saudi fertilizer firm, SABIC Agri-Nutrients, jumped 4 percent to a record high of SR192 ($51.2). Similarly, its parent company Saudi Basic Industries Corp., known as SABIC, gained 1.8 percent.

In the financial sector, Al Rajhi Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi were up 1.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Tadawul group, owner of the Saudi Exchange relinquished its morning gains as it dropped to SR163, with over SR640 million worth of shares changing hands intraday

Saudi Aramco closed 0.3 percent lower.

The oil giant signed one agreement and nine MoUs with leading Korean entities to advance its downstream strategy and support development of low-carbon energy solutions, while creating new financing options for the company.

Shares in Saudi real estate developer Red Sea International Co. fell 1.3 percent, after it signed a SR60.5 million deal with The Red Sea Development Co., TRSDC, to develop three complexes in the Saudi Western region.

In the oil market, Brent crude reached $88 per barrel, and US WTI crude oil traded at $86 per barrel as of 3:40 p.m. Saudi time.


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Dubai has managed to secure first place on the list of most popular destinations in the world for 2022, according to TripAdvisor’s “Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2022.”

“To rank as the world's best means a destination has obtained stellar traveller reviews across all of its tourism sectors,” CNN reported, citing Justin Reid, director of media, destinations and travel at TripAdvisor.

The city attracted global visitors over the last year in spite of the consequences of the pandemic.

In 2022, rules of entry to the UAE are somewhat complicated and usually depend on the country you’re coming from.

Aside from some African countries, the UAE has opened applications for tourist visas for vaccinated travellers globally.

Other Middle Eastern cities such as Hurghada, Egypt also made it to the leading travel platform’s list of most popular destinations for 2022.


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Speaking in a session during the Davos agenda organized by the World Economic Forum, the minister said that the world has a generous amount of energy to exploit, whether from fossil fuels or from renewable sources.