Category: Dubai


Indigo eyes a return to 80% flight capacity, says will not delay aircraft deliveries

Indigo was Airbus’ largest customer in 2020, adding 44 A320/21neos to its fleet last year.
Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Indigo has not deferred the delivery of new aircraft from Airbus and ATR even as the pandemic forces airlines around the world to re-think their future strategies.

“We have not actually delayed or deferred any orders from the manufacturers – Airbus and ATR,” said William Boulter, Indigo’s Chief Commercial Officer, during a CAPA (Centre for Aviation) event on Wednesday.

Indigo was Airbus’ largest customer in 2020, adding 44 A320/21neos to its fleet last year.

“We find that receiving these aircraft as scheduled helps with our fuel bill – we’re taking the A320/21neos and the improvement in fuel burn is around 15 per cent, which obviously assists in greatly reducing our cost per available seat kilometer,” said Boulter.

Aiming for 80 per cent

India recently allowed airlines operating in the country to operate at 65 per cent capacity, up from 50 per cent.

Indigo’s Boulter is hopeful that the low-cost carrier will return to the 80 per cent capacity seen in February and March. “We do see demand has come back – some observers think it’s coming back faster than it did after the first wave… we look forward, optimistically”

Apart from the limits on flight capacity, India’s aviation regulator has also placed caps on domestic flight fares. This has not gone down well with airlines.

“We’ve made it clear that we would like to get back to 100 per cent capacity and we would like to see the price limits removed,” said Boulter. “We would obviously like to get back to the situation as it was in 2019”

Retiring planes

With the pandemic, airlines are retiring older, less fuel efficient aircraft. Indigo is no exception.

The Indigo executive declined to comment on the number of aircraft retired, calling it “commercially sensitive.”

“Our focus right now is just right-sizing the fleet towards the demand, which is now picking up again,” said Boulter.

He added that returning the aircraft to lessors has been “very challenging” in the current market.

Big changes

With or without the crisis, India’s aviation sector has been going through massive changes. Flagship carrier Air India is in the process of being privatized, while former market leader Jet Airways is seeing a possible return to skies after being acquired by a consortium last year.

All these developments have made investors and industry insiders wonder if Indigo would be able to hold on to its crown.

“We are absolutely consistent (and) will continue growing – what others do is not of much concern to us,” said Boulter.

Since the airline’s founding in 2005, “we’ve seen airlines come and go” and “we will continue to be focused on our own growth,” he added.


UAE’s Air Arabia partners with investment fund ANIF to launch a new low-cost carrier in Armenia

STOCK Air Arabia Sharjah
Air arabia
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE’s low-cost carrier Air Arabia and Armenian National Interests Fund (ANIF) agreed to launch Armenia’s new national airline.

The deal will see the establishment of an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport (EVN) as its base.

The new carrier will serve the “strategic vision of Armenia’s fast-growing travel and tourism sector as well as contributes to the country’s economic growth,” said the companies in a statement.

“This builds on our commitment to partner with top global entities on transformational projects that catalyse our crucial economic sectors,” said David Papazian, CEO of ANIF

“Air Arabia has a well-established track-record in launching and operating successful LCCs, and its knowhow will be a differentiating strength of the new airline,” said Papazian.

Based in Yerevan, the new company will adopt the low-cost business model operated by Air Arabia. Work on securing the Air Operating Certificate (AOC) – which allows the airline to start operating- will commence shortly.

“We see tremendous potential for Armenia in building its airline sector, which will add sustained value to the economy through job creation and the development of travel and tourism sector,” said Adel Al Ali, Group CEO of Air Arabia.

The name of the airline will be decided by the people of Armenia through an open competition that lasts for four weeks.

More details about the launch date, fleet, and destination network will be announced in due course, said the statement.

“Having a strong national low-cost airline is essential for the development of Armenia’s air transport sector, especially as a tool to recover faster from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tatevik Revazian, Chair of the Civil Aviation Committee of Armenia

“We are confident that the expertise Air Arabia brings to the JV will support the seamless launch and growth of the carrier,” said Revazian.


Fed’s Powell says economy ‘a ways off’ from bond taper, inflation to ease

190712 Jerome Powell
The US job market “is still a ways off” from the progress the Federal Reserve wants to see before reducing its support for the economy, while current high inflation will ease “in coming months,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said.
Image Credit: Reuters

Washington: The US job market “is still a ways off” from the progress the Federal Reserve wants to see before reducing its support for the economy, while current high inflation will ease “in coming months,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in remarks prepared for delivery at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in coming months before moderating,” Powell said, restating the U.S. central bank’s faith that current price increases, despite the concerns they are raising about unmoored inflation, are tied to the reopening of the economy and will prove fleeting.

Meanwhile “there is still a long way to go” in repairing a labor market that is 7.5 million jobs away from its pre-pandemic level, with the burden falling hardest on lower-wage workers and major ethnic and minority groups, and the overall participation rate still depressed, Powell said.

Combined, the remarks show Powell holding to the Fed’s core narrative that a fast-evolving recovery will bring millions of people back into jobs if it continues, that inflation will remain anchored over time around the Fed’s 2% target, and that there is no reason to rush any tightening of monetary policy.

Cheap money policy to continue

Ongoing Fed bond-buying and a target interest rate held near zero “will ensure that monetary policy will continue to deliver powerful support to the economy until the recovery is complete,” Powell said.

Powell is scheduled to appear before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). On Thursday, he will testify before the Senate Banking Committee at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT).

At the Fed’s last policy meeting, some officials indicated the Fed may need to pull back faster than anticipated because of the jump in inflation.

Powell restated that Fed discussions are underway about when it might be appropriate to reduce the central bank’s $120 billion in monthly bond purchases, and that employment gains are expected to continue.

There was no mention in his testimony of the risks of the emerging Delta variant of the coronavirus, but a strong expectation that the recovery should continue unimpeded.

“Job gains should be strong in coming months as public health conditions continue to improve and as some of the other pandemic-related factors currently weighing them down diminish,” Powell said.


Saudi, UAE reach compromise to unlock more oil supply, says source

Saudi oil Aramco refinery
Saudi Aramco’s oil & gas facilities at Yanbu refinery.Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reached a compromise over OPEC+ policy, an OPEC+ source said on Wednesday.
Image Credit: AFP

Dubai/London: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reached a compromise over OPEC+ policy, an OPEC+ source said on Wednesday, in a move that should unlock a deal to supply more crude to a tight oil market and cool soaring prices.

Brent oil prices fell on the news by as much as $1 per barrel towards $75 per barrel after Reuters reported the two major OPEC producers had agreed a deal.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, a group known as OPEC+, still need to take a final decision on output policy, after talks this month were abandoned because of the Saudi-UAE dispute.

OPEC+ had agreed record output cuts of almost 10 million barrels per day (bpd) last year to cope with a pandemic-induced slump in demand. The curbs have been gradually relaxed since then and now stand at about 5.8 million bpd.

The dispute between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi spilled into the open after the OPEC+ talks, with both airing concerns about details of a proposed deal that would have added an extra 2 million bpd to the market to ease oil prices that have recently climbed to 2-1/2 year highs.

While Saudi Arabia and the UAE both endorsed raising output immediately, the UAE had opposed extending the existing deal until December 2022 from April 2022 unless it was granted a higher production quota.

The OPEC+ source said Riyadh had agreed to Abu Dhabi’s request to have UAE’s baseline – the level from which cuts under the OPEC+ agreement on supply curbs are calculated – set at 3.65 million bpd from April 2022, up from 3.168 million now.

Giving the UAE a higher production baseline paves the way for extending the overall pact to the end of 2022, the OPEC+ source said.

OPEC+ has yet to take a final decision about the production deal. It was not immediately clear if other countries would also adjust their baselines.

The producers have said they will decide on a new date for the next meeting in due course.


Philippines extends travel ban on UAE, India until July 31

Dubai: The Philippines has extended the travel ban on travellers from UAE and six other countries until July 31 to prevent the spread of the highly-transmissible ‘Delta’ Covid-19 variant, Philippine News Agency reported, citing a briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque announced the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in his regular Palace press briefing.

The IATF approved the extension of the travel restrictions on travel from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UAE, and Oman.

This is the fifth time that travel restrictions were imposed on the countries to prevent the entry of the Delta variant, first detected in India.

Cebu Pacific (CEB) on Tuesday said it had cancelled its flights to and from Dubai until August 1 “to ensure that its operations restart smoothly and safely.”

“This schedule realignment is geared toward avoiding any last-minute changes that could cause inconvenience to our passengers,” the airline told Gulf News.

The following flights will be cancelled during this period: 5J 14 (Manila-Dubai) from July 18 to 31, 2021; 5J 17 (Dubai-Manila) from July 17 to August 1, 2021; and 5J 19 (Dubai-Manila) from July 20 to August 1, 2021.Cebu Pacific will continue to operate all other (Philippines) domestic and international flights as scheduled.


Abu Dhabi oil giant ADNOC awards contracts worth Dh2.8 billion for offshore drilling

Dubai: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) will invest $763.7 million (Dh2.8 billion) in integrated rigless services across six of its artificial islands in the Upper Zakum and Satah Al Razboot (SARB) fields. This will help the energy giant boost its production to 5 million barrels per day (mmbpd) by 2030.

The investment is in the form of three contracts were awarded by ADNOC Offshore to Schlumberger, ADNOC Drilling, and Halliburton after a competitive tender process. Schlumberger’s share of the award is valued at $381.18 million (Dh1.4 billion); ADNOC Drilling’s at $228.71 million (Dh839.58 million), and Halliburton’s share is $153.87 million (Dh564.85 million).

Over 80 per cent of the total award value will flow back into UAE’s economy under ADNOC’s In-Country Value (ICV) programme over the five-year duration of the contracts, said ADNOC in a statement. “These important awards for integrated rigless services will drive efficiencies of drilling and related services, and optimize costs in our Offshore operations as we ramp up our drilling activities to increase our production capacity and enable gas self-sufficiency for the UAE,” said Yaser Saeed Almazrouei, ADNOC Upstream Executive Director.

The scope of the contracts includes coiled tubing services with thru-tubing downhole tools, stimulation services, including equipment and chemicals/fluid systems, surface well testing services, wireline, and production logging services and tools, saturation monitoring, and well integrity. “These contracts are an important contributor to ADNOC Offshore’s plans to build our production capacity to over 2 million barrels a day in the coming years to support ADNOC Group’s smart growth strategy,” said Ahmad Saqer Al-Suwaidi, CEO of ADNOC Offshore.


Dubai to host naming ceremony of MSC Cruises’ new vessel

MSC Vituosa
MSC Cruises, in partnership with Dubai Tourism, DP World and Emirates Airline will host the naming ceremony of Virtuosa in Dubai in November this year.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: MSC Cruises, in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), DP World and Emirates Airline, Wednesday announced that the naming ceremony for the line’s newest flagship, MSC Virtuosa, will take place in Dubai on November 27 at Mina Rashid (Port Rashid).

The newest addition to the MSC Cruises fleet derives her name from the Italian word virtuoso and refers to the master craftsmen who designed and developed this masterpiece, which will be the most technologically and environmentally advanced cruise vessel ever deployed in the UAE. The naming will be celebrated with a stunning array of live entertainment and performances awaiting the specially invited guests from around the world.

The naming ceremony event will take place in compliance with all public health and safety protocols. The occasion will also be a part of the celebrations surrounding the Golden Jubilee of the UAE and will be staged as Dubai welcomes the world to Expo 2020.

“Dubai has charted a strong and steady course to become a global tourism destination and preferred regional cruising gateway. The milestone naming ceremony and maiden voyage of MSC Virtuosa from Dubai underscores the trust and confidence that the city has earned as a great partner for the cruise industry,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

Hosting the MSC Virtuosa naming ceremony recognises Dubai’s position as an international hub for tourism, trade and technology, and highlights its achievement in setting the highest international standards across various sectors over the past 50 years.

“This event assumes more significance due to the fact that it is part of the line-up of glorious events and activities taking place for the “Year of the 50th” and coincides with the region’s first World Expo, as well as truly celebrating Dubai as one of the favoured destinations for travellers from all over the world. I am so glad that cruising has played and will continue to play an important part in this achievement,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises

“The quadripartite partnership further consolidates collaboration, takes MSC Cruises’ operations in Dubai to a new level and highlights the emirate’s world-class ability to embrace the expected growth in cruise tourism, given optimistic forecasts of a long-awaited finale of the COVID-19 pandemic looming in the distance,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

MSC Virtuosa was delivered in February and is one of MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally-advanced ships and part of the generation of Meraviglia class vessels that are characterised by an iconic 112-metre-long promenade with a stunning LED sky dome as the social heart of the ship.

The 19-deck vessel will offer its guests of all ages the very best of fine dining restaurants, world-class entertainment, relaxing bars and lounges, boutique shopping, spa and fitness centres, an aquapark and clubs for toddlers and teenagers.

Likely to be a huge draw for all guests will be the brand-new MSC Starship Club featuring the world’s first humanoid robotic bartender offering a futuristic immersive bar and entertainment experience.

“As we look forward to marking this momentous tourism event in this landmark year for Dubai, we remain grateful to our valued network of stakeholders and partners such as Emirates and DP World for their continued support, which has helped Dubai kick-start global tourism recovery including a return to cruising in the region,” Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).


Mubadala satellite operator Yahsat jumps on debut, boosting Abu Dhabi IPO push

Satellite operator Yahsat jumped on its Abu Dhabi trading debut, bolstering the emirate’s efforts to revive listings of Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange.
Image Credit: EPA

Abu Dhabi: Satellite operator Yahsat jumped on its Abu Dhabi trading debut, bolstering the emirate’s efforts to revive listings on an exchange that last hosted an initial public offering in 2017.

Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. rose as much 13 per cent on Wednesday to Dh3.10. The company is owned by Abu Dhabi’s $243 billion sovereign fund Mubadala Investment Co., which will keep a majority stake after the listing.

Abu Dhabi’s exchange has been reaching out to state-run and family owned companies, offering incentives such as flexibility on the minimum required stake size and reduced or zero fees, Bloomberg reported in May.

Mubadala is close to listing Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC, while state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is considering selling shares in its drilling business and has started preparations for a potential IPO of its fertilizer joint venture.

Yahsat’s share sale is the second-largest on record in the emirate, after Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. for Distribution PJSC raised $850.8 million in a 2017 offering, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is also the first IPO in Abu Dhabi since that listing.

Mubadala sold 975.9 million Yahsat shares, representing a 40% stake, for Dh2.75 each, the mid point of a marketed range. The sale attracted foreign and “high quality” investors, the company said in a statement last week. The Emirates Investment Authority subscribed to 5% of the offer.

Yahsat provides satellite communications solutions to more than 150 countries globally, according to its website. Its fleet of five satellites reaches more than 80% of the world’s population, and the company expects to launch a new satellite in 2023, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The company has been profitable for at least the last three years, with its net income rising to 253 million dirhams in 2020


Don’t worry, the latest OPEC spat will play out soon to the best interests of all

The latest disagreement in Opec is similar to several previous ones – except for the taking it out of its context for certain purposes.
Image Credit: AP

It has been 60 years and more since OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) was founded in Baghdad. All through its turbulent history, the grouping has witnessed disagreements and efforts at one-upmanship between member countries. Often, these differences have led to the near collapse of the organisation.

But the interests of OPEC’s member-states and their awareness of the importance of some degree of agreement have ensured the world oil market retains a measure of balance and price stability. This has prompted them to reach compromises and contributed to transforming the organisation to an ‘OPEC+’ status after the closer associations with Russia and Kazakhstan.

The latest disagreement is similar to several previous ones – except for the taking it out of its context for certain purposes. We have followed OPEC meetings since we were university students in the 1970s and 1980s due to their importance for our countries and economic futures. There was never a permanent disagreement between two countries – the differences have always been between two groups that have divergent interests on certain matters.

Does the nature of the new disagreement differ from all the previous differences in the past 60 years? The answer to this question will raise questions through which many important conclusions can be drawn. We believe that it does not.

Nature of the spat

The first group, which includes Russia, Iraq and other countries, have called for extending the baseline of oil production and output cuts until the end of 2022, while the other group seeks to change the base ceiling. This group includes Kazakhstan and Mexico, although the latter have not announced their position openly.

So, why is some international media distorting the nature of the disagreement into a dispute between two countries? Some Arab media have been dragged to this juncture without analyzing the nature of previous differences.

Stoking tensions

Here, the danger lies in misleading public opinion to create an atmosphere of heightened tensions or to achieve other purposes. Especially since the current disagreement is not comparable to the deep differences within OPEC in past decades. Even then, it was able to overcome all such issues without disturbing the relationship between countries in the two opposing groups. This clearly means that the current disagreement can be overcome thanks to OPEC’s accumulated experiences, through compromises that satisfy all parties.

The OPEC spat will be resolved sooner. The common interests and friendly relations between the two groups will eventually impose themselves into shared solutions. Everyone is avoiding last year’s scenario when prices collapsed below $20 a barrel, and even reached a negative price of minus $40 a barrel in the futures market for the first time. However, the situation was quickly overcome. Last year’s experience was bitter, particularly because it coincided with a drop in oil demand by 30 million barrels per day due to the pandemic.

A common point

Going back to the origin of the disagreement between two groups, the fact is each has its own reasons and demands, but the interests that unite the countries in the two groups are undoubtedly greater than the disparities. This will facilitate an eventual compromise that preserves the gains of all member countries and leads to oil market stability, which is important to a world economy still caught in the overhang of the pandemic.

The writer is a specialist in energy and Gulf economic affairs.