Middle East Business Review – 29 Feb

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ME AIRLINES RECORD DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH IN JANUARY

According to an International Air Transport Association (IATA) statement, Middle Eastern airlines posted 14.5% growth in January, by far the best performance in the world. “The year started with some hopeful news on business confidence. It appears that freight markets have stabilised, albeit at weak levels. And this is having a positive impact on business-related travel. However, airlines face two big risks: rising oil prices and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Both are hanging over the industry’s fortunes like the sword of Damocles,” Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement. IATA also noted that Middle Eastern carriers enjoyed a 9.4% rise in freight demand while capacity rose 10.6% and load factor soared 2.7 points to 78.5%, the highest in the world.

EMIRATES RAISES AIR FARES CITING FUEL PRICES

A spokesman for the Dubai flag carrier announced air fares for the economy and business class would go up from 1 March. “Due to the current volatility of oil prices, Emirates is introducing a fuel surcharge, for all tickets issued on or after the 1st March 2012, to reflect the substantial recent increases in our fuel costs,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement. Emirates has increased fares on its UAE to GCC, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent routes by adding AED60 ($17) to the economy class whereas AED390 ($106) to business and first classes. For UAE to Africa, Europe, the Far East and Australasia, the economy surcharge is AED120 ($33), while first and business class customers will see an increase of AED500 ($136). Passengers travelling to the Americas will pay an extra AED170 ($46) in economy, with first and business class being hit by the largest increase, AED610 ($166).

ETISALAT SIGNS SATELLITE BROADBAND DEAL WITH INTELSAT

Etisalat has entered into a multi-year agreement with satellite operator Intelsat that will help UAE telecom giant to expand the reach of its broadband and GSM services in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. “This important agreement will provide Etisalat with the capability to meet the growing communications requirements of our customers,” said the telecoms’ vice president of carrier and wholesale services, Ali Amiri. Meanwhile, Jean Philippe Gillet, Intelsat’s regional vice president of sales for Europe and the Middle East said: “Intelsat 22 is the first of five satellites expected to launch in 2012 that will provide additional capacity over key regions like the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”

AL JAZEERA SET TO CHALLENGE SKY FOR EPL BROADCAST RIGHTS: ESPN

Ross Hair, ESPN’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa has hinted Al Jazeera could challenge Rupert Murdoch’s Sky for the rights to broadcast live English Premier League football in the UK. “We’re expecting another Premier League auction in April or May. You can draw parallels with the upcoming auction in the UK. Al Jazeera have the ambition to grow further in sport and into other markets,” Hair said in an interview with London-based Evening Standard. He added that Al Jazeera’s bid seems realistic given the fact that they’ve snatched UEFA Champions League and French first division football broadcast rights from rival Canal+.

BOEING DELIVERS VIP 747 JET TO ANONYMOUS ‘QATARI’ CUSTOMER

Boeing delivered the first passenger version of its upgraded 747-8 Intercontinental to an unnamed VIP customer believed to be from Qatar, aviation industry insiders suggested. “The 747 is the most iconic airplane in the world, and I know customers are going to love what we’ve done to enhance its performance. The Intercontinental is fast, efficient and quiet, offering real savings and a great flying experience,” Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. He added that the secret customer wants the new Intercontinental to be the ‘jewel of the sky’.

KUWAIT REAL ESTATE SALES HIGH 64% in JANUARY

According to a report released by National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), real estate sales activity in Kuwait soared to KD318.1 million ($1.14bn) in value, registering an increase of 64% year-on-year. “Residential sector sales were KD170.3m for January, a 40% year-on-year climb. Residential sales should continue to do well in the near future, as it appears backed with solid demand. The investment sector (mainly apartments and buildings intended for rental), saw KD127.3m in transactions for January, a little more than double the amount of last January. This was supported by a higher average transaction size, compared to 2011,” the report said while adding that bullish sales should continue for the rest of 2012 albeit at a slower rate.

SPECULATION, PROBLEMS IN THE GULF TO BLAME FOR HIKE IN OIL PRICES: KUWAIT

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein insisted problems in the Gulf as well as speculation in crude markets are the main reasons behind soaring oil prices. “We are confident that good reasoning will prevail and that everybody will do what is in the interest of the region and the world. Kuwait will abide by what OPEC says is a fair price for oil,” Hussein said in an interview.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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