Airbus says it revokes Qatar order for 50 A321 jets as rift widens

Airbus says it revokes Qatar order for 50 A321 jets as rift widens
Qatar Airways had ordered the A321 neos to open new routes. (Konstantin von Wedelstaedt/Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 23 January 2022

Airbus says it revokes Qatar order for 50 A321 jets as rift widens

Airbus says it revokes Qatar order for 50 A321 jets as rift widens
  • Qatar Airways is expected to fight the A321 contract’s termination, having said it plans to take delivery of the jets even though it is refusing to take more A350s until a dispute over surface erosion on the larger planes has been resolved

PARIS: Airbus on Thursday raised the stakes in a dispute with one of its largest customers, Qatar Airways, over grounded and undelivered A350 jets by announcing it had revoked a separate contract for 50 smaller A321s the airline needs to open new routes.
The move is expected to deepen a dispute that moved closer toward a rare courtroom clash on Thursday, with a procedural hearing over Qatar’s claim for $600 million in compensation over A350 flaws pencilled in for the week of April 26 in London.
Airbus revealed it was walking away from the contract for A321neos in skeletal arguments presented during a scheduling session over the A350 dispute at a division of Britain’s High Court on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said.
“We confirm we did terminate the contract for 50 A321s with Qatar Airways in accordance with our rights,” an Airbus spokesman said following a filing setting out provisional arguments, reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Qatar Airways is expected to fight the A321 contract’s termination, having said it plans to take delivery of the jets even though it is refusing to take more A350s until a dispute over surface erosion on the larger planes has been resolved.
The airline had no immediate comment on the A321 contract.
The A321 order stems from a deal first signed some 10 years ago which was then worth $4.6 billion at list prices. It was later modified to switch 10 of the A321s to a newer version.
Qatar Airways has said the A321s will help it launch flights to new markets where there is currently not enough demand for larger aircraft, but which are out of reach of smaller A320s.

GROUNDING DISPUTE
The two companies have been locked in a row for months over A350 damage including blistered paint, cracked window frames or riveted areas and erosion of a layer of lightning protection.
Qatar Airways says its national regulator has ordered it to stop flying 21 out of its 53 A350 jets as problems appeared, prompting a bitter dispute with Airbus which has said that while it acknowledges technical problems, there is no safety issue.
Qatar Airways is seeking $618 million in compensation for the 21 grounded jets plus $4 million a day as the row drags on.
The Gulf carrier is also asking British judges to order France-based Airbus not to attempt to deliver any more of the jets until what it describes as a design defect has been fixed.
Airbus has said it will “deny in total” the complaint and has accused Qatar Airways, once one of its most highly courted customers, of mislabelling the problem as a safety concern.
It has indicated it will argue that state-owned Qatar Airways influenced its regulator to ground the jets to win compensation, while Qatar Airways has questioned the design and accuses Airbus of failing to produce studies, the people said.
Qatar Airways has said its local regulator is independently driving safety decisions and cannot evaluate the airworthiness of the affected jets without a deeper analysis from Airbus.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which is responsible for the overall design but not the locally regulated airworthiness of individual planes in service, has said it has not so far found safety problems with A350s that it inspected.
Qatar is so far the only country to ground some of the jets.
But a Reuters investigation in November revealed at least five other airlines had discovered paint or surface flaws since 2016, prompting Airbus to set up an internal task force before the Qatar row, and to explore a new A350 anti-lightning design.


Saudi Exim, UKEF partner to expand international trade

Saudi Exim, UKEF partner to expand international trade
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi Exim, UKEF partner to expand international trade

Saudi Exim, UKEF partner to expand international trade

RIYADH: The Saudi Export-Import Bank and UK Export Finance have signed an agreement to help British and Saudi businesses secure international contracts.

Under the deal, UKEF will offer support for the export of Saudi products and provide significant opportunities to engage in trade with third countries, according to a UKEF press release.

“Saudi Arabia is diversifying its exports capability intensely as part of Vision 2030 strategy. The two countries are already working closely together to strengthen trade ties to support the growth in export,” Saad Alkhalb, CEO of Saudi Export-Import Bank, said

“This partnership is a major boost to our trading relationship and to businesses in both countries,” Louis Taylor, CEO of UKEF, said.

Founded in 2020, Saudi Exim is one of the world’s newest export credit agencies, whereas UKEF, established in 1919, is one of the oldest. 


Johannesburg needs $1.6bn to stabilize power supply by 2030: NRG matters

Johannesburg needs $1.6bn to stabilize power supply by 2030: NRG matters
Updated 11 min 4 sec ago

Johannesburg needs $1.6bn to stabilize power supply by 2030: NRG matters

Johannesburg needs $1.6bn to stabilize power supply by 2030: NRG matters
  • The executive director of the International Energy Agency cautioned that with the right investments in clean energy, dependence on fossil fuels will no longer be necessary

RIYADH: On a macro level, South Africa’s Johannesburg is seeking a massive investment to stabilize power supply.

The country is also advancing solar power projects to avoid potential power cuts in the country that is set to have record outages this year.

The executive director of the International Energy Agency cautioned that with the right investments in clean energy, dependence on fossil fuels will no longer be necessary.

Meanwhile, India’s Mahindra and Mahindra is seeking opportunities to source components from other firms as it intends to boost its electric vehicle portfolio.

Looking at the bigger picture: 

·South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, Johannesburg, is seeking as much as 26 billion rand ($1.6 billion), in an attempt to stabilize power supply by 2030, Bloomberg reported, citing Mayor Mpho Phaltase. This comes as the state power utility, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., has been unable to meet demand since 2008, causing recurrent power outages in the city. Moreover, the city is forecast to have a record number of power cuts in 2022.  

·South Africa has registered two major solar projects under license exemption, in an attempt to ramp up private generation and curb potential outages, Bloomberg reported. The two solar projects, which are to be located in South Africa’s North West province, have the capacity to generate as much as 100 MW of electricity. 

·The energy security crisis, which was exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war, should not lead to a deeper dependence on fossil fuels, Reuters reported, citing the International Energy chief at the IEA, Fatih Briol. Not only will investment in renewable and nuclear energy curb the need for fossil fuels, but it will also help avoid energy shortages and accelerated climate change, the chief added. 

Through a micro lens:

·Indian multinational conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra has announced that it is exploring options for sourcing components from other firms, in order to strengthen its electric vehicle portfolio, Reuters reported, citing the firm’s chief executive Anish Shah. Even though the firm used to develop the components in-house, it acknowledged that collaborations with other firms will facilitate faster growth. Last week, Mahindra and Mahindra revealed a partnership agreement with German motor vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen to equip its electric cars with motors, battery system components, and cells. 


Sharp slowdown in UK business activity rings recession alarm

Sharp slowdown in UK business activity rings recession alarm
Updated 19 min 49 sec ago

Sharp slowdown in UK business activity rings recession alarm

Sharp slowdown in UK business activity rings recession alarm
  • Financial markets still expect the BoE to double interest rates to at least 2 percent by the end of the year from 1 percent now

LONDON: Momentum in Britain’s private sector slowed much more than expected this month, adding to recession worries as inflation pressures ratcheted higher, according to a business survey on Tuesday that showed rising pessimism.

S&P Global’s flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a monthly gauge of the services and manufacturing industries, fell to 51.8 in May from 57.6 in April, its lowest level since February last year.

The preliminary reading was worse than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists, which had pointed to a drop to 57.0.

Sterling fell sharply against the US dollar after the data, and was 0.9 percent down on the day at $1.2480 at 0855 GMT, while short-dated British government bond prices jumped.

“The collapse in the composite PMI in May is the clearest sign yet that demand is faltering in response to the intense squeeze on households’ real disposable incomes,” said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Until now, most surveys of British business activity had been fairly robust, despite record-low consumer confidence after inflation hit a 40-year high of 9 percent.

“The latest data indicate a heightened risk of the economy falling into recession as the Bank of England fights to control inflation,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Financial markets still expect the BoE to double interest rates to at least 2 percent by the end of the year from 1 percent now.

The slowdown was most acute in the services sector, where business optimism about the coming 12 months fell to its lowest since May 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown.

“Companies cite increasingly cautious moods among households and business customers, linked to the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit, rising interest rates, China’s lockdowns and the war in Ukraine,” Williamson said.

Reports of rising costs paid by businesses were more widespread than at any point since the services PMI started in 1996.

Williamson said there were some signs cost pressures may be peaking, and businesses reported resistance from customers to higher prices and a related reduction in demand.

The flash PMI for the manufacturing sector also fell in May to its lowest level since January 2021 at 54.6 , down from 55.8 in April. New export orders declined at the fastest rate since May 2020.

A number of manufacturers cited Brexit trade frictions as the main reason for the drop. 


Saudi IT firm Naseej's shares drop 1.4% on stock market debut

Saudi IT firm Naseej's shares drop 1.4% on stock market debut
Updated 24 min 45 sec ago

Saudi IT firm Naseej's shares drop 1.4% on stock market debut

Saudi IT firm Naseej's shares drop 1.4% on stock market debut

RIYADH: Riyadh-based Naseej for Communication and Information Technology Co.’s shares were down 1.4 percent on its stock market debut on May 24.

The stock price reached SR20.5 ($5.5) per share at noon Riyadh time, as it started trading on Saudi Arabia’s parallel Nomu market.

The company joined the Kingdom’s stock exchange as a direct listing.

Founded in 1989, Naseej is mainly specialized in computer programming, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and information technology-related activities.


Hilton plans to grow olive oil locally in Saudi Arabia

Hilton plans to grow olive oil locally in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 min 13 sec ago

Hilton plans to grow olive oil locally in Saudi Arabia

Hilton plans to grow olive oil locally in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: American hospitality giant Hilton plans to grow olive oil locally in Saudi Arabia, as the hotel chain is encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s efforts to push for local sourcing as part of its strategy to develop non-oil sectors including tourism, a senior executive at the company has revealed. 

While speaking at the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh on May 24, Emma Banks, vice president, F&B Strategy & Development EMEA, at Hilton also revealed that the company has signed a deal with Nadec, one of the largest agricultural and food-processing companies in the Middle East, to purchase 200 tons of tomatoes.

She also affirmed Hilton’s commitment to protecting the community in which it operates.

Banks revealed that Hilton has been working hard to reduce carbon emissions by implementing strategic measures in its operations.