Hi Fly landing row: Saudia protests contract violation

Updated 11 May 2015

Hi Fly landing row: Saudia protests contract violation

The Saudi Arabian Airlines has canceled the contract with the Portuguese company, Hi Fly, as it took one of its off-duty aircraft to Israel without permission, the SPA said on Saturday.
The decision follows posting of the footage, on social networking sites, of the aircraft with the Saudia logo landing at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
In a statement, Saudia said that an investigation has revealed that the footage is of the plane that was in the custody of Hi Fly.
“The company had been given a contract for air transport to provide Saudia with planes for commercial operations,” it added.
“The plane was off duty and under the management of the holding company at the time when it left Saudi Arabia on Sunday, May 3, for Brussels, Belgium, for routine maintenance.”
The Saudi carrier said the leasing company has committed a blatant violation of the contract, citing para 7 of Article 8, which states that Hi Fly is committed to obtain a written approval of Saudia, mentioning the airports where it is to land or the place to conduct routine maintenance.
“Such landing or operation process should take place in a country that shares diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enable Saudia staff and the Civil Aviation authority to conduct inspection and follow up on the maintenance operation at any time,” the contract states.


New Saudi rules on hookah leave businesses, consumers confused

Arab News visited different restaurants in the town and found a few serving hookahs. (AP/File)
Updated 7 min 50 sec ago

New Saudi rules on hookah leave businesses, consumers confused

  • Manal Jafar: Everywhere in our city is polluted with smoke, you can hardly find a restaurant where you can safely take your kids

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs has imposed new regulations on restaurants and cafes serving hookah. Although many were disappointed following the announcement to allow hookah inside cities, businesses were shocked to know about the fees imposed on them. Nonsmokers have also raised their concerns after they realized that bills will rise by 100 percent if they visit a restaurant that serves hookah.
Arab News visited different restaurants in the town and found a few serving hookahs. Some said that they will still serve it, but will not charge customers any extra fees.
Meanwhile, a trending hashtag in Saudi Arabia addressed the issue of fees on tobacco, with some customers sharing their bills online.
Michel Abou Assaly, director of operations at Shababik Restaurant in Jeddah, said that when they first found out about the new law they were surprised: “We were obliged to stop serving hookah and we had to send all our employees at the shisha department on a short leave until things became clearer.” He added they did not want their customers to pay double the price for the same product. He anticipates a 40 percent drop in sales.
“Thousands of restaurants and cafes will close down and at least 100,000 families will be affected,” Assaly said. He added that investors should ask the ministry to reconsider this law.
Halima Muthaffar, a writer, said that although she hates the smell of tobacco, she still sees this as an unfair decision. She added that it is not the right time, especially as Saudi Arabia is opening up for tourists.

FASTFACT

• The use of tobacco is expected to cost the Saudi economy SR480 billion ($128 billion) for the period 2018-2030.

• Authorities hope to reduce tobacco consumption in the Kingdom to 5 percent by 2030.

• The annual fee for the license to serve tobacco ranges from SR5,000 to SR100,000.

• Fees for licensing tobacco during events range from SR600 to SR3,000.

• 100 percent of fees are imposed on all bills of restaurants and cafes serving tobacco.

Columnist Gassan Badkook said that the authorities will reconsider the way these fees are being calculated. He said that three groups will be negatively affected: Nonsmokers, who will have to pay fees for a product they do not use, investors who might close their businesses and employees who might lose their jobs.
Manal Jafar said she agrees with the fees: “A restaurant should serve food only. Everywhere in our city is polluted with smoke, you can hardly find a restaurant where you can safely take your kids.”
Mohammad bin Hamad said he rarely goes to a restaurant with his family, but they never ask for hookah. “Why should I pay 100 percent fees on top of my bill? We should wait for a few months, many restaurants will stop offering hookah because they will lose so many customers.”