Qatar Airways to have shuttle flights with Saudia, other GCC airlines for World Cup, CEO says

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Updated 21 June 2022

Qatar Airways to have shuttle flights with Saudia, other GCC airlines for World Cup, CEO says

Qatar Airways to have shuttle flights with Saudia, other GCC airlines for World Cup, CEO says

DOHA: Qatar Airways is seeking partnership with other Gulf Airlines, including Saudia, to increase the flow of football fans to Doha as Qatar is preparing to host the World Cup in November.

Akbar Al-Baker, Qatar Airways Group CEO, told Arab News during the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting in Doha that the airline has tied up with flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air and Saudia to connect match ticket holders to Doha. 

The airlines to provide “Match Day Shuttle” flights for 24-hour experiences, during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, he added.

“We want to encourage other airlines to come here and bring capacity. You know, as an airline, we won’t singularly be able to bring all the capacity required to bring the fans for the World Cup,” Al-Baker said.

“The landscape of this tournament gives us the opportunity to spread the business with various regional airlines. Our combined bandwidth with flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air and Saudia will create travel flexibility that will bridge cultures and give fans the chance to explore multiple places in the Middle-East,” he continued.

Qatar Airways is one of the most profitable airlines in the world. 

It has recorded $1.54 billion in profit during the 2021-22 fiscal year – the highest net profit among all airlines around the globe that have published their financial results for the 2021-22 financial year.

FASTFACT

Match Day Shuttle

The airline has tied up with flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air and Saudia to connect match ticket holders to Doha via Match Day Shuttle flights for 24-hour experiences, during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Post-COVID challenges

As IATA predicted that freight revenue generated by carriers this year would fall by 6.4 percent, Al-Baker added: “There will be a downturn in business, and when there is a downturn in business, people don’t buy stuff that we normally carry as cargo.”

With capacity able to meet current demand, a drop in bookings will create downward pressure on yields when the recession starts, he said.

Al-Baker further said that labour shortages will be another big challenge in the coming months, though he added that his airline is “inundated with job applications”. 

“People got into a bad habit of working from home,” he pointed out.

“They feel they don’t need to go to an industry that really needs hands-on people," he said, adding shortages in airport staff could hurt growth.

Qatar Airways wants to restore flights to Hong Kong but it's still under COVID-19 restrictions, Al-Baker said. 

“Hong Kong is a very important market for aviation. It’s a big hub, and I hope that the authorities will reconsider. You know, now you have to live with COVID.”

Al-Baker also stressed the importance of the Latin American market stating that Qatar Airways is planning to fly to Mexico but is facing legal issues.

Airbus dispute

He also talked about Qatar Airways’ legal dispute with Airbus over flaws with the protective skin of A350 wide-body jets, saying: “We are always open to constructively resolve issues. But we cannot accept somebody not following a contract they have signed with us.”

In an unprecedented London court battle, Qatar Airways is pursuing Airbus for more than $1 billion in damages, with the value of the carrier's claim rising by $4 million per day.

Qatar Airways, supported by its own national regulator, which has ordered the jets out of service as the problem appears, insists that the safety impact cannot be properly understood until Airbus provides deeper analysis.

Airbus is in discussions with Qatar Airways to try to resolve the bitter legal and safety dispute over the A350 passenger jet, the planemaker's chief executive said on Sunday.

"There's progress in the sense that we are communicating; we are working with each other," Guillaume Faury told Reuters on the sidelines of the IATA meeting in Doha. "I think we share the view that a settlement would be a better way forward, but as long as you don't have an agreement, you have no agreement."

Sustainable fuel use

Speaking about the industry’s net-zero 2050 target, Al-Baker said it would be a difficult target for airlines to achieve.

It is going to be “very challenging”, he said, adding that other stakeholders in the industry, including engine makers and oil companies, would need to contribute to the goal.


Egypt signs $1.1 billion renewable energy deal with AMEA Power

Egypt signs $1.1 billion renewable energy deal with AMEA Power
Updated 11 sec ago

Egypt signs $1.1 billion renewable energy deal with AMEA Power

Egypt signs $1.1 billion renewable energy deal with AMEA Power

DUBAI: Egypt has sealed an agreement with AMEA Power a $1.1 billion agreement for a solar project and a wind farm with a combined capacity of about 1 gigawatt (GW).

The Emirati renewable energy company will build, own and operate a 500-megawatt solar facility in Aswan governorate of Egypt and a 500MW wind farm at the Red Sea governorate. The wind farm will be developed in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation, who will own 40 percent equity in the project. The solar plant, meanwhile, is being financed by International Finance Corporation, Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The projects will boost the renewable energy ambitions of Egypt, along with supporting economic and social development within the region, a report from state news agency WAM said.

Cairo is aiming to source electricity from renewable energy platforms by as much as 42 percent by 2035.

Construction of both projects will commence this month, with completion of the solar plant expected after 18 months and of the wind farm after 30 months.


King Abdulaziz Port welcomes first ever Grimaldi car carrier

King Abdulaziz Port welcomes first ever Grimaldi car carrier
Updated 30 November 2022

King Abdulaziz Port welcomes first ever Grimaldi car carrier

King Abdulaziz Port welcomes first ever Grimaldi car carrier

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority, or Mawani, has announced the arrival of MSC Cristiana, a 4,250-vehicle car carrier owned by automobile shipping giant Grimaldi Group, at Dammam’s King Abdulaziz Port from the Chinese port of MCID.

With major shipping lines sailing toward Saudi waters, the national maritime regulator has scaled yet another milestone as it looks to boost the Kingdom’s liner connectivity with the rest of the world. It also seeks to reinforce its presence as a competitive force on the global scale while bolstering national economic growth and foreign trade in line with the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

King Abdulaziz Port is a highly rated trade and investment hub in the Arabian Gulf, thanks to its close proximity to Jubail’s ports and industrial complex as well as its rail linkages to Riyadh Dry Port and the Saudi railway network.

With its suite of world-class operating capabilities and best-in-class infrastructure, which includes 43 berths, the port was ranked 14th in the World Bank’s Container Port Performance Index for 2021.

The port has recently added a series of new shipping services to its roster, including the Jebel Ali Bahrain Shuwaikh Service by the Emirates Shipping Line, the Far East to Middle East service by Sea Lead Shipping in partnership with Saudi Global Ports, and the Gulf-India Express 2 service by Aladin Express. These are in addition to the latest expansion of the Gulf China Service by Pacific International Lines through the introduction of Shanghai and Singapore as new ports of call.

The shipping services lend their part in enabling a greater market capture of the regional maritime freight market while at the same time positioning King Abdulaziz Port as a global destination.


TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points
Updated 30 November 2022

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained ground on Wednesday, with 148 of the 219 listed companies closing higher as investors came in droves to kick-start a bull run.

The Tadawul All Share Index added 142 points to close at 10,896.91, while the parallel market Nomu soared 473 points to finish at 18,866.

The total trading turnover closed at SR8 billion ($2.13 billion), an encouraging figure from the SR2.58 billion clocked on Sunday.

Saudi utility major ACWA Power announced that it signed a power purchase agreement with the Water and Electricity Holding Co. to develop the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East.

Based in Makkah, the 2,060-megawatt project will be ready by the fourth quarter of 2025 and is expected to power 350,000 homes.

The news led to a flurry among investors to purchase the shares, leading to a 4.32 percent increase in share price while closing at SR140.20.

Saudi Arabian food delivery app Jahez announced a share purchase agreement to acquire 134,620 shares in The Chefz SPV Ltd., representing a 100 percent stake, for SR325 million. The share price closed 12 points higher to SR602.

Saudi Telecom Co. revealed the repurchase of 11.59 million shares for SR453 million at an average price of SR39.16 to facilitate its employee stock incentive plan. The stock opened at SR38.10 and closed at SR38.45, up 1.1 percent.

The stock exchange also witnessed a slew of dividends and bonus shares that steamed up the market.

Healthcare player Al Hammadi Holding on Tuesday recommended a 3.5 percent cash dividend of SR0.35 per share for the fourth quarter this year, amounting to a total of SR56 million. Its share barely inched up to close at SR42.

Nafiyat Finance Co. also recommended a 20 percent increase in capital through a bonus issue of one-for-five shares, leading to a marginal increase in its share price, which closed at SR20.70.

International Human Resources Co.’s shareholders approved a recommendation to distribute cash dividends at 7.5 percent of the company’s capital, or SR0.75 per share, for the first half of 2022. The share price gained 3 percent to close at SR64.

The topmost grosser of the day was Dallah Healthcare Co., with its share price increasing 9.8 percent to end at SR173.60.

Other companies reigning the market included the National Company for Learning and Education, Amlak International for Real Estate Finance Co., Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. and Almasane Alkobra Mining Co, which clocked on average a 7.54 percent increase.

The top losers were Tourism Enterprise Co., Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund, Riyad REIT Fund, Yanbu Cement Co. and Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co.


Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA
Updated 30 November 2022

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

RIYADH: Economic headwinds across the globe continued to affect air cargo demand in October, as Middle Eastern carriers witnessed a 15 percent fall in air cargo volumes compared to the same period last year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The October report from the organization, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 83 percent of global air traffic, revealed the impact of the economic headwinds on the aviation sector could even follow into 2023.

“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience as headwinds persist. Cargo demand in October — while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021 — saw a 3.5 percent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh. 

He added: “As 2022 closes out it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring.” 

In October 2022, air cargo volumes in Asia-Pacific airlines decreased by 14.7 percent compared to the same month in 2021. 

The report noted that the fall of air cargo volumes in the Asia Pacific was impacted by conflict in Europe, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to omicron-related restrictions in China

North American carriers posted an 8.6 percent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022, while European carriers saw an 18.8 percent decrease compared to the same month last year, primarily due to the war in Ukraine and high inflation levels. 

Latin American and African carriers also witnessed a fall in cargo volumes by 1.4 percent and 8.3 percent over the same period.

The report also suggested that the global demand for air cargo measured in cargo ton-kilometers fell 13.6 percent in October 2022 from the same month last year. 

“Capacity was 0.6 percent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season,” said IATA in the report. 

International cargo capacity grew 2.4 percent in October 2022, compared to the same month in the previous year. 


Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced that it has secured a new $17 billion seven-year senior unsecured term loan, according to a statement.

The loan is the largest-of-its-kind general corporate purpose loan worldwide and was twice oversubscribed.

The new loan falls in line with the sovereign wealth fund’s strategy of diversifying its funding sources in an attempt to prompt effective investment in the Kingdom and globally.

The new loan also aligns well with the PIF’s medium-term capital raising strategy as well as its 2022 Annual Capital Raising Plan.

“It is a significant achievement for PIF, raising a record-sized term facility in the longest tenor ever for a loan of its size that is subscribed to by an unprecedentedly diversified number of lenders. PIF will continue to explore a variety of debt funding sources as it delivers on its strategic objectives,” said Head of Global Capital Finance Division at PIF Fahad AlSaif in a statement.

The PIF’s $11 billion five-year loan which was arranged back in 2018 is set to be repaid early, the statement disclosed.

While the new transaction recorded the support of 25 financial institutions across Europe, America, the Middle East, and Asia, the $11 billion loan of 2018 was supported by just 15 financial institutions.

In February 2022, the PIF received strong international credit ratings from US credit firm Moody’s as well as US finance and insurance company Fitch, reflecting the creditworthiness and quality of the sovereign wealth fund’s investments.