Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 24

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 24

The top business/economic stories from the MENA region as reported in the regional and industry press – April 24

Turkey Economy – “Turkey’s economy faces growing risks as it enters a downturn with dwindling reserves and a fragile lira, financial markets signaled on Friday, as data showed factories slowing due to the coronavirus outbreak. For the first time since the worst day of a currency crisis in 2018, the Turkish lira on Wednesday briefly breached 7 versus the dollar after the central bank slashed rates twice as much as expected,” Reuters/Al-Arabiya reports.

Aviation Losses – “Air traffic in the Middle East and North Africa is set to plummet by more than half this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a global aviation body said on Thursday,” AFP/Jordan Times reports.

Regional Aviation – “Middle Eastern and African governments are failing to take the action required to protect their airlines from the economic crisis caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday. Several states have stepped in to help airlines, with travel demand decimated by the outbreak, such as the US, Singapore and Australia, though few in the Middle East have made their intentions clear,” Reuters/Arab News reports.

Iran/US Conflict – “President Hassan Rouhani called on Iran’s armed forces on Friday to seek regional stability while maintaining vigilance against ‘provocations’, state TV reported, as a war of words with arch-enemy the United States escalated. The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday Tehran would destroy U.S. warships if its security is threatened in the Gulf, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Tehran over ‘harassment’ of U.S. vessels,” Reuters reports.

Oil Price – “Oil prices rose on Friday, but both the Brent and U.S. benchmarks were on track for their third straight week of losses as global production shutdowns failed to keep pace with the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Reuters reports.

GCC Banks – “The strength of earning capacity of banks in the GCC will help them navigate the shocks related to COVID-19 and the oil price drops, S&P Global Ratings said yesterday. It expects most of the banks to generate positive net income in 2020. The rating agency noted the GCC banks have raised around $20bn of hybrid capital the GCC banks instruments over the past five years and some of them are reaching their first call dates in 2020,” The Peninsula reports.

Lebanon Pound – “The Lebanese central bank set an exchange rate of 3,625 Lebanese pounds to the US dollar to be applied by money-transfer firms on Friday, 58 per cent weaker than the official peg as the country grapples with its financial crisis, a central bank source said. The new rate is seen as part of wider moves by the central bank away from a peg in place since 1997, bankers said. Though the official pegged rate of 1,507.5 pounds is still in place, it amounts to an effective devaluation of the pound, they said,” The National reports.

Egypt/ENI – “A deal struck between Spanish gas firm Naturgy Energy Group, Italy’s Eni and the Egyptian government to resolve a series of disputes over a shuttered gas plant in northern Egypt has fallen through, Naturgy said on Thursday. The agreement had been due to end Naturgy’s business interests in Egypt and dissolve a joint venture between Naturgy and Eni, while Eni and state-owned Egyptian firms would have increased their holdings in the Damietta plant,” Ahram Online reports.

Turkey/China – “Turkish industrial goods exports to China have rallied as Chinese factories resume production and businesses reopen after a shutdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. ‘After the Chinese economy reopened gradually, acceleration started in firms exporting to China,’ said Murat Kolbaşı, the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Business Council of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK)…’Some 75% of factories have restarted production in China, and domestic demand is now around the level of 60%-80%,’ Kolbaşı told Anadolu Agency (AA),” Daily Sabah reports.

DP World – “DP World has launched new online logistics tools and services, covering sea, land and air shipping around the world.The new connected ecosystem of platforms will enable freight forwarders and any business, to book shipments of cargo from and to anywhere in the world, by any combination of sea, land and air,” Sea Trade Maritime News reports.

Mauritania – “The International Monetary has approved a grant of $130 million (Dh477.1m) for Mauritania – under the Rapid Credit Facility – to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The new funds will help the north-west African nation to increase spending on health services and social protection programmes, said IMF in a statement,” The National reports.

UAE/Retail – “In accordance with the announcement by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, Al Futtaim will open its malls across the UAE on April 25 (Saturday), with trading hours of 12pm-10pm. Family entertainment, cinemas, gyms, prayer rooms, changing rooms and shisha services will remain closed, as per the directive. The opening comes in line with the supreme Committee of Disaster Management’s announcement of the partial easing of restrictions on movement in Dubai. Prior to opening, both malls are mandated to comply with the various guidelines and protocols and the partial opening is within strict health and safety guidelines,” Khaleej Times reports.

 

Indian Ocean Business Times Weekly – April 24

Indian Ocean Business Times Weekly – April 24

Top business stories from countries across the Indian Ocean region: Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen. Collectively, they account for 35% of the world’s population and nearly 20% of global GDP.

East Africa – “All five East African Community countries should brace for drastic drops in their economic growth rates this year as a direct result of the global coronavirus crisis. The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook projections for 2020 pegs Kenya and Tanzania’s respective GDP growth rates at one per cent and two per cent respectively in 2020, down from 5.6 and 6.3 per cent respectively in 2019. Uganda will maintain a 3.5 growth rate this year, compared with 4.9 per cent in 2019,” The East African reports.

South African Airways – “South African Airways (SAA) is set to lay off all of its employees at the end of April. A document detailing the airline’s severance package, obtained by Bloomberg, shows  that 4,700 employees will leave the company by the end of this month. The collapsing airline will reportedly make sales of its assets to foot the salary pay-outs,” Bloomberg/The Standard reports.

Virgin Australia – “Virgin Australia Holdings owes A$6.90 billion (S$6.24 billion) to more than 10,000 creditors based on an initial review and will seek a three-month payment waiver from aircraft lessors, according to the company’s administrators,” Reuters/Singapore Straits Times.

India/Aviation – “Airlines in India are likely to suffer a revenue loss of 11.2 billion dollars this year leading to 2.9 million jobs at risk as passenger demand falls by 47 per cent due to COVID-19 crisis, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Friday. The latest estimates from IATA indicate a worsening of the country impact from coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions in the Asia Pacific region,” Business Standard reports.

Facebook/Reliance – “With the pandemic battering assets and oil nosediving, Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani needed a win to stem the investor exodus from Reliance Industries Ltd., the energy conglomerate he’s been trying to reinvent. This week, Facebook Inc. and its Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg delivered just that. The U.S. social-media giant said it will buy about 10% of Reliance’s digital assets for $5.7 billion — its biggest purchase since acquiring WhatsApp six years ago,” Bloomberg/Economic Times reports.

UAE/DP World – “DP World, the Dubai-based ports and logistics giant, said the real impact of Covid-19 will be seen from the second quarter onwards after it posted a 1.7 per cent dip in first-quarter shipping container volumes. The ports operator warned that global trade and container volumes are forecast by industry analysts to decline in 2020, with estimates on the scale of the drop ranging from 3 per cent to 10 per cent, it said in a statement on Thursday,” The National reports.

Etihad/Air Arabia – “Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the new joint venture between Etihad Airways and Air Arabia, secured its air operating licence, making it the UAE’s fifth national airline once it begins service from the capital. The new discount carrier, which was expected to start operations in the second quarter of 2020, is working with the UAE’s civil aviation regulator to finalise its launch date once market conditions improve and skies re-open, it said in a statement on Thursday,” The National reports.

East Africa Locusts – As the East African Community partner states are continuing to grapple with the effects of Covid-19, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a possible re-invasion of locusts in the region,” The Tanzania Daily News reports.

Kenya/Ports – “Importers in the region have called on the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Ship Agents Association to increase the free demurrage quota and free cargo period as a result of slow clearance and transportation of goods due to lockdowns and curfews imposed by various countries,” The East African reports.

Pakistan/ADB – “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide $1.7 billion to Pakistan to combat the economic impacts of coronavirus in the country, it was learned on Friday. The assurance was given by the ADB President to the Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, during a virtual meeting,” Business Recorder reports.

Pakistan/Moody’s – “The financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilaterals has lowered Pakistan’s financing risks from the coronavirus-related economic shock even though its fiscal deficit may touch double digits. ‘The substantial financial support from official-sector creditors reduces Pakistan’s financing risks,’ said the Moody’s investors service on Thursday, adding that the fiscal stimulus announced by the government could widen the country’s budget deficit to 9.5-10 per cent of GDP,” Dawn reports.

Bangladesh/Port – “State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the government is pledged-bound to keep the operational activities of Chitagong port in the normal pace for national interest. Khalid Mahmud told this journalists after a view-exchanging meeting with senior officials of Chattogram Port at the port building on Thursday, reports BSS,” Dhaka Tribune reports.

Sri Lanka/Fitch – “The shock to Sri Lanka’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic will exacerbate already-rising public and external debt sustainability challenges following tax cuts and an associated shift in fiscal policy late last year. The pandemic will especially hurt the tourism sector, which, combined with weaker domestic demand, will further damage Sri Lanka’s public and external finance metrics,” Lanka Business Online reports.
Yemen/Flood – “Flash floods caused by heavy rains have hit Yemen’s interim capital, Aden, leading to a power outage and city-wide immobilization. Eight people, including five children, have been killed and dozens injured, officials said. The deaths take the national toll to at least 15 after the United Nations said that seven other people were killed by flooding in the north, where the country’s long conflict is raging between the government and the Iran-backed Houthi militias,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.
Malaysia Airways/Air Asia – “Merging money-losing state carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd with budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd is one of the options to ‘save’ them as the Covid-19 crisis batters the industry, Malaysia’s second-most senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali told Reuters on Friday,” Reuters/Edge Markets Malaysia reports.
Singapore Airlines – “Covid-19’s grounding of airlines worldwide has ensured that only the fittest and best-supported fliers will survive. With rich government backing, Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) is well-positioned to ride out the turbulence and boost its post-pandemic global market share. Singapore is now estimated to have the world’s largest number of idle aircraft after global travel restrictions forced SIA to ground 96% of its approximately 200-plane fleet on March 23. With infections sharply rising in the city-state and elsewhere, it is unclear when normal operations will resume,” Asia Times reports.
Lion Air – “Thai Lion Air is reducing its workforce again amid the freezing of its business due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The airline informed its staff in a statement last week that almost 120 employees with less than a year’s experience would be let go on the understanding that they would be the first priority for recruitment in the future if business returns to normal,” Bangkok Post reports.

 

Mozambique/Militants – “Some 52 young people were shot dead or beheaded in the country’s north as an Islamist insurgency gains strength. Local and national security services as well as foreign mercenaries have been unable to stop the militants,” AllAfrica.com reports.

 

Seychelles/Covid-19 – “The Seychelles Health Authority said on Thursday that it is maintaining the extension of the prohibition of outdoor movement until May 4, four days longer than the April 30 date previously announced. Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon said during a weekly press conference that the additional days will ensure more time for active surveillance and monitoring,” Seychelles News Agency reports.

 

Geo-Strategy – “If Chinese military planners thought they could use the Covid-19 crisis to steal a march in the Indian Ocean, they may have been mistaken. India may be under the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown, but its navy is not. On April 14, the Indian Navy issued a public statement saying that its Eastern Naval Command’s Dornier squadron continues its maritime surveillance missions and that its naval assets remain ‘mission-ready and prepared for immediate deployment should the need arise,'” Asia Times reports.

 

India/Geo-Politics – “Amid this entire crisis, India has been playing an important role. India’s role could be considered at both the domestic level – the steps taken to tackle the crisis at home — and the diplomatic level — India’s assistance to other countries, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), amid the pandemic…One of the first steps taken by India was to evacuate citizens of different countries along with its own citizens from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the first COVID-19 outbreak. Those evacuated as compassionate cases included citizens from Indian Ocean Rim countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Maldives, South Africa, and Madagascar. India not only evacuated these people, but also quarantined them in India as a precautionary measure before sending them to their respective countries.” The Diplomat reports.

India/Covid-19 – While death rates in some countries have risen sharply in recent weeks, in India the opposite seems to be happening, at least in some places, leaving hospitals, funeral parlours and cremation sites wondering what is going on. ‘It’s very surprising for us,’ said Shruthi Reddy, chief executive officer of Anthyesti Funeral Services, which operates in of Kolkata and Bengaluru,” LiveMint India reports.

Sri Lanka/India – Sri Lanka is set to enter into an agreement with the Reserve for a currency swap worth moe than $400 million to boost foreign reserves and ensure financial stability of the country which is badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Times of India reports.

India/Foreign Investment – “Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund has said it would close six yield-oriented, managed credit funds with total assets under management of Rs 25,856 crore in India from April 23 over severe market dislocation and illiquidity caused by the coronavirus pandemic…Franklin Templeton is shutting these fixed-income and credit-risk funds run, locking in Rs 308 billion ($4.1 billion) of investors’ money,” Hindustan Times reports.

Maldives/IMF – “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a disbursement of 28.9 million US dollars to the Maldives as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continued to rise, local media reported. The Executive Board of the IMF approved the disbursement on Thursday under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), which the government can use to manage fiscal needs and balance of payments amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak, reports Xinhua,” Financial Express reports.

Troubles Mount for Sudan Amid Covid-19 Challenge

Troubles Mount for Sudan Amid Covid-19 Challenge

Two recent articles on Sudan, one in the New York Times and the other in Asharq Al-Awsat, highlight the immense challenges faced by the East African country over the next year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the IMF, Sudan faces a 7.2% economic contraction – disastrous for an economy that was already having difficulty creating jobs for its mostly young and rural population.

According to the article in Asharq Al-Awsat, some 80% of the population are dependent on agriculture, and the sector accounts for some 44% of GDP.

An excerpt from the piece below:

Food security in Sudan faces new challenges as the government takes restrictive measures on stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus.

 

The measures have greatly affected producers especially those working in the agriculture sector, which represents 44% of the Sudanese economy.

 

The curfew imposed on producers in the agriculture and industrial sectors threatens the future of food security in the African country, where preparations for summer seasonal crops are usually made in April and May.

The New York Times reported on the stark lack of ventilators and overall preparedness for a major coronavirus outbreak in the country of 41 million people.  A doctor was quoted as saying: “On a normal day in Sudan you can’t find a ventilator. It’s going to be a disaster. Those who have immunity will live, and those who don’t will have to pray.”

An excerpt from the piece below:

“The government is in a position (where it has) to make very difficult decisions when they don’t have that sense of security,” said Nada Abdelmagid, assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

 

International donors have held back, demanding a reform plan and the lifting of fuel subsidies costing about $3.5 billion a year.

 

Potential donors from the West and the Gulf have postponed from April to June a “Friends of Sudan” economic conference, and with the pandemic there could be more delays.

 

The European Union and United States have pledged 80 million euros ($86.62 million) and $13.7 million respectively to aid the coronavirus efforts. Two shipments of supplies have arrived from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

 

Red Sea Economic Times – April 23

Red Sea Economic Times – April 23

Business and Economic News from the Red Sea region and littoral states Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti from regional, international, and industry media – April 23, 2020

Yemen/Flood – “Flash floods caused by heavy rains have hit Yemen’s interim capital, Aden, leading to a power outage and city-wide immobilization. Eight people, including five children, have been killed and dozens injured, officials said. The deaths take the national toll to at least 15 after the United Nations said that seven other people were killed by flooding in the north, where the country’s long conflict is raging between the government and the Iran-backed Houthi militias,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

Yemen/Flooding – “Heavy thunderstorms that brought flooding and damaging winds to parts of the Arabian Peninsula earlier in the week are being blamed for multiple casualties in the region. A storm system swept across the Arabian Peninsula on Monday and Tuesday, sparking thunderstorms that produced flooding downpours, gusty winds and frequent lightning strikes across the region,” AccuWeather reports.

Sudan/Covid-19 – “With just a few hundred ventilators and international aid slow to materialise, Sudan’s fledgling government knows it has an uphill battle against a coronavirus pandemic that has brought far richer countries to a standstill. The number of cases of the novel coronavirus is still small and doctors say they are able to cope so far, but they are concerned that a healthcare system that has been underfunded for decades will not be able to cope if numbers spike,” The New York Times reports.

Sudan/Food Security – “Food security in Sudan faces new challenges as the government takes restrictive measures on stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus. The measures have greatly affected producers especially those working in the agriculture sector, which represents 44% of the Sudanese economy,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

Eritrea – “Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki has delivered his first public address on the coronavirus pandemic since the country recorded index case on March 21. In a message broadcast via public broadcasters, Eri-TV and Radio Dimtsi Hafash, he likened the COVID-19 pandemic to a sudden war that the world least expected and was thus not fully prepared for,” AfricaNews reports.

Saudi Arabia Debt – “Saudi Arabia may borrow an additional 100 billion riyals ($26.6 billion) this year and the total debt could reach 220 billion riyals ($58.5 billion), said Minister of Finance, Acting Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed al-Jadaan on Wednesday. The Kingdom will draw down no more than 110-120 billion riyals ($29.2-31.9 billion) from its reserves to finance a government deficit caused by oil price collapse and the coronavirus pandemic,” Al-Arabiya reports.

Eritrea/Ethiopia – “Ethiopia has stopped granting automatic asylum to Eritreans entering the country. The United Nations and aid groups say the previously unannounced policy change, which went into place about three months ago, put Eritreans trying to flee the country at the mercy of unscrupulous human smugglers. For years, Ethiopia had an ‘open-door’ policy towards refugees from countries such as South Sudan and Eritrea, earning it widespread acclaim among international donors,” New Delhi Times reports.

Djibouti Floods – “In the night between 20 and 21 April, Djibouti city received 80 mm of rainfall in few hours (half of the annual average), triggering widespread flash floods. Heavy rains also occurred in other areas of the country, causing some damages,” ReliefWeb reports.

Suez Receipts – “Tax and non-tax proceeds from Egypt’s Suez Canal fell by 4.7% year-on-year (YoY) to EGP 35.91 billion during the first seven months of fiscal year 2019/2020, compared to EGP 37.7 billion. Taxes on Suez Canal’s earnings reached EGP 18.8 billion from July 2019 to last January, compared to EGP 19.4 billion in the year-ago period, according to recent data released by the Ministry of Finance,” Hellenic Shipping News reports.

Egypt/Subsidies – “Egypt plans to cut spending on fuel subsidies by 47% in its 2020/21 budget to 28.193 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.8 billion), an explanatory note for its draft budget published showed. It allocates 52.963 billion pounds for fuel subsidies for the 2020/21 fiscal year. Last December, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum Tarek al-Mala said that support for petroleum products fell to 7.250 billion pounds ($451.4 million) in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019-2020, compared with 13 billion pounds estimated in the budget, compared to 23.25 billion pounds a year ago,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

Yemen War – “A two-week ceasefire in Yemen announced by a Saudi-led military coalition expired on Thursday without leading to a permanent truce, raising fears that the country’s war will grind on and shatter its already weakened ability to combat coronavirus,” Reuters reports.

Yemen/Hodeidah – “Pro-government Yemeni health workers launched a wide-scale sanitation and disinfection campaign in the war-ravaged port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, as part of preventive measures to fight COVID-19 in the impoverished Arab country. According to a local official, who asked to remain anonymous, the Saudi-backed Yemeni government funded an initiative to sanitize many residential areas where poor families are living in Hodeida,” Xinhua reports.

East Africa Locusts – As the East African Community partner states are continuing to grapple with the effects of Covid-19, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a possible re-invasion of locusts in the region,” The Tanzania Daily News reports.

Egypt/Tourism – “Tourism and medical sources in the Red Sea governorate on Saturday announced the end of quarantine for employees at hotels and resorts in Hurghada. These tourism staff concluded the entire period of quarantine which began since the facilities were first closed, the sources said, confirming that none of them had the coronavirus,” Egypt Independent reports.

Saudi/Red Sea Project – “The developer behind Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project has begun phase one of its operations breaking ground on the construction of a 1.5 million sq. meter coastal village area which will house workers, staff and management of the mega-city project…The Red Sea Project is a planned megacity on Saud Arabia’s western coast and will cover 28,000 sq. km in total area including 200 km of coastline. The city will welcome its first visitors by the end of 2022 and will be fully completed by 2030,” Saudi Gazette reports.

Djibouti Climate – “Once known as French Somaliland, and later the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, the tiny country of Djibouti on the Horn of Africa gained independence in 1977. Roughly the size of Wales, it lies at the southern entrance of the Red Sea, opposite Yemen, and is bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia…Though this is not a world record, Djibouti city is one of the hottest inhabited places on the planet, with an average year-round temperature of 28.5C (83F),” The Guardian reports,

Tourism – “Since everything is going virtual now because of the social distancing measures that people have adopted to try and contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, why not add virtual hiking to the list! Red Sea Mountain Trail announced that today marks the first days of its 50-day-long virtual hike thru, with pictures, maps, and stories of the land they cover. The Red Sea Mountain Trail normally takes 10 days to walk, so every 5 days, their official Facebook page will publish a post about a day on the trail,” ScoopEmpire reports.

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 23

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 23

The top business/economic stories from the MENA region as reported in the regional and industry press – April 23

Region/Aviation – “’Urgent’ help is needed to help airlines across the Middle East and North Africa, where many are ‘struggling to survive’ amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Muhammad Al Bakri, the regional vice president of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). On Thursday, IATA said that MENA airlines could lose $24 billion worth of passenger revenue compared to 2019 – approximately $5 billion more than it had forecast at the beginning of April,” Arabian Business reports.

Saudi Arabia Debt – “Saudi Arabia may borrow an additional 100 billion riyals ($26.6 billion) this year and the total debt could reach 220 billion riyals ($58.5 billion), said Minister of Finance, Acting Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed al-Jadaan on Wednesday. The Kingdom will draw down no more than 110-120 billion riyals ($29.2-31.9 billion) from its reserves to finance a government deficit caused by oil price collapse and the coronavirus pandemic,” Al-Arabiya reports.

UAE/Aviation – “The UAE airlines will lose $6.8 billion (Dh25 billion) in revenues due to the impact of impact of coronavirus, putting 378,678 jobs at risk, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest data released on Thursday. The figures are higher than IATA’s previous forecast released three weeks ago when it predicted $5.36 billion revenue loss and 287,863 jobs at stake in the UAE,” Khaleej Times reports.

UAE/Lulu – “An Abu-Dhabi based investment firm has agreed to buy a stake worth just over $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) in LuLu Group International, which runs one of the Middle East’s largest hypermarket chains, according to people familiar with the matter. The company acquired an almost 20 per cent holding in the Abu Dhabi-based supermarket group founded by Indian entrepreneur Yousuf Ali MA, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private,” Gulf News reports.

Eithad/Air Arabia – “Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the new joint venture between Etihad Airways and Air Arabia, secured its air operating licence, making it the UAE’s fifth national airline once it begins service from the capital. The new discount carrier, which was expected to start operations in the second quarter of 2020, is working with the UAE’s civil aviation regulator to finalise its launch date once market conditions improve and skies re-open, it said in a statement on Thursday,” The National reports.

Saudi Aramco – “Saudi Aramco has isolated 15,000 employees on offshore oil rigs in order to ensure a continued supply of petroleum products to the world amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company told Al Arabiya English. Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s energy giant, is the world’s most valuable company, and pumps more oil on a daily basis than any other producer in the world,” Al-Arabiya reports.

UAE/E-Commerce – “The Carrefour UAE portal has been upgraded into a full-scale online marketplace, which means that it will now be competing against the likes of Amazon and noon. In the initial push, some Majid Al Futtaim’s mall tenants have already joined the platform, including Borders, LUSH, Tavola, Arabian Oud and Jacky’s,” Gulf News reports.

Majid Al Futtaim – “One of the biggest private employers in the Middle East has no plans to cut salaries or lay off any of its 44,000 workers, but the pandemic is changing its thinking about food security, retail and tourism. Majid Al Futtaim owns and operates hundreds of grocery stores and more than two dozen malls in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. In Gulf Arab states, it has more than 19,000 employees, mostly from the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Egypt. The workers’ salaries provide vital income for their families at home,” AP/Arab News reports.

GCC Remittances – “Global remittance flows will tumble 20 per cent this year as the coronavirus pandemic drags the economy through a recession, deepening hardship for families in poor and developing nations, according to the World Bank. Transfers to low- and middle-income countries from workers abroad probably will plunge by a fifth to $445bn, the Washington-based development institution said in a report on Wednesday,” Gulf Business reports.

Iran/Covid-19 – “Iran reopened its parks and recreation areas on Wednesday in line with its phased easing of coronavirus restrictions, following a recent decline in infections and deaths. The National Coronavirus Taskforce announced that parks and recreational areas are once again open to the public, if they comply with the Health Ministry’s guidelines, ISNA quoted,” Financial Tribune reports.

 

Egypt/Subsidies – “Egypt plans to cut spending on fuel subsidies by 47% in its 2020/21 budget to 28.193 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.8 billion), an explanatory note for its draft budget published showed. It allocates 52.963 billion pounds for fuel subsidies for the 2020/21 fiscal year. Last December, Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum Tarek al-Mala said that support for petroleum products fell to 7.250 billion pounds ($451.4 million) in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019-2020, compared with 13 billion pounds estimated in the budget, compared to 23.25 billion pounds a year ago,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

Morocco Tourism – “If Morocco does not urgently mobilize a plan to save its tourism sector, the country will lose over MAD 138 billion ($13.85 billion) between 2020 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 crisis, revealed a study by the National Tourism Confederation (CNT),” Morocco World News reports.

DP World – “The logistics sector is facing ‘uncertainty’ amid the Covid-19 pandemic despite a relatively stable first quarter for Dubai-based ports operator DP World, according to group chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. In a statement on Thursday, DP World said that it handled 17.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in Q1. Gross container volume fell by 1.7 percent year-on-year on a reported basis, and up 0.3 percent on a like-for-like basis,” Arabian Business reports.

Qatar/Vodafone – “Vodafone Qatar reported a net profit of QR48m for the first quarter of 2020, representing an increase of 10 percent year-on-year; the company’s highest achieved quarterly net profit,” The Peninsula reports.

Syria/Covid-19 – “As Damascus confirmed its forty-second case of the coronavirus and third death from the resulting disease, the government’s transparency has been questionable, as the slow rate of growth of the virus that causes COVID-19 in Syria has not followed the same exponential curve seen in most other countries. ‘The problem is that there is no access to official information, the relevant ministries do not share numbers,’ said Mohamad Katoub, the policy and advocacy manager for the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression,” Syria Direct reports.

 

Africa Commercial Telegraph Weekly – April 22

Africa Commercial Telegraph Weekly – April 22

Top business stories from Sub-Saharan Africa from the pages of the regional press – April 22

South African Airways – “South African Airways (SAA) is set to lay off all of its employees at the end of April. A document detailing the airline’s severance package, obtained by Bloomberg, shows  that 4,700 employees will leave the company by the end of this month. The collapsing airline will reportedly make sales of its assets to foot the salary pay-outs,” Bloomberg/The Standard reports.

Africa/Covid-19 – “COVID-19 has now spread to all corners of Africa and, as the rate of infections increase, the continent’s economies are coming to a crashing halt, risking the reversal of two decades of economic progress. Trade has been the heartbeat of Africa’s economic success, with the UK alone importing £12.7bn in goods and services from Africa in 2016, much of which from the agriculture sector,” The Africa Report reports.

Nigeria Oil – “For weeks now Nigeria has been engaged in an usual battle to find enough buyers for its oil, and now global storage for crude oil is filling up with the harsh reality coming back home soon to hit homes, businesses and jobs as government finances collapse in Africa’s most populous nation. Tens and probably hundreds of millions of barrels of Nigeria’s flagship crude grade Bonny Light are held up inside ocean-going vessels in international waters around the world and buyers, when they come, are offering as low as $12 a barrel in the physical market, cheaper than a basket of tomatoes,” Business Day reports.

RwandAir – “RwandAir has resumed cargo flights to Guangzhou, China, as the airline embarks on a recovery path following suspension of passenger flights in March to stop the spread of Covid-19. The airline has been operating cargo flights only to Brussels and London at least once a week using its A330 jets, and had suspended cargo flights to China in February,” The East African reports.

East Africa – “All five East African Community countries should brace for drastic drops in their economic growth rates this year as a direct result of the global coronavirus crisis. The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook projections for 2020 pegs Kenya and Tanzania’s respective GDP growth rates at one per cent and two per cent respectively in 2020, down from 5.6 and 6.3 per cent respectively in 2019. Uganda will maintain a 3.5 growth rate this year, compared with 4.9 per cent in 2019,” The East African reports.

South Africa/Aviation – “The South African government will work with trade unions to ensure that a new financially viable and competitive airline emerges from South African Airways (SAA) business rescue process, the public enterprises ministry said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports.

S. Africa/Super Group – “S&P Global Ratings downgraded the long-term national scale rating of Super Group from zaAAA to zaAA due to the effects of Covid-19 and its negative impact on the transport and motor industries worldwide,” The Star reports.

Ghana Ratings –  “Fitch Ratings has affirmed Ghana’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a Stable Outlook,” Fitch Ratings reports.

West Africa Migration – “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected mobility across West Africa. As of the end of March, borders remained open only in Benin, the Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone. International air travel was also almost entirely halted; only Benin and Togo were still open to international flights, and Sierra Leone’s airport was open with restrictions. Border closures have stranded travelers in a variety of locations across the region,” ReliefWeb reports.

East Africa Locusts – As the East African Community partner states are continuing to grapple with the effects of Covid-19, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a possible re-invasion of locusts in the region,” The Tanzania Daily News reports.

Nigeria/Covid-19 – “Confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus reported in Nigeria jumped by 117 on Tuesday night, the highest daily figure reported by NCDC since it recorded the first case in February,” Business Day reports.

Kenya Debt – “The amount of debt falling due this year has dropped by Sh29 billion after reconciliations passed through the supplementary budget by the National Treasury. The drop has revised what Kenya planned to pay this year to Sh253.2 billion, down from the Sh282.3 billion that was contained in the original budget for 2019/20,” The Daily Nation reports.

Uganda Reserves – “Bank of Uganda has said foreign reserves are expected to decline from 4.2 months import cover to 3.5 months. In his presentation during the Stanbic Bank webcast discussion on the impact of Covid-19 last week, Dr Adam Mugume, the Bank of Uganda executive director for research, said there was need to mobilise resources to support foreign reserves that are expected to take a hit due to Covid-19. The decline, he said, will also be experienced in the case international reserves that will fall to 3.6 months import cover in the 020/21 financial year,” The Daily Monitor reports.

Zambia Gold – “THE Bank of Zambia (BoZ) says preparations to start keeping gold as an alternative foreign reserve with a mining firm have advanced,” Zambia Daily Mail reports.

Zimbabwe Cotton – “Stakeholders in Zimbabwe’s cotton industry are seeking a subsidy on cotton producer price during the forthcoming season after international lint prices crushed to historic levels due to coronavirus,” The Herald reports.

 

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 22

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 22

The top business/economic stories from the MENA region as reported in the regional and industry press – April 22

Qatar/China – “China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and Qatar Petroleum officially signed a RMB20bn($2.86bn) contract for the construction of LNG carriers at CSSC Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding. It is the largest export LNG carrier construction contract a Chinese shipyard has ever received,” Seatrade Maritime News reports.

Russia/OPEC+ – “The Kremlin said on Wednesday that it was too early to draw any conclusions about possible additional steps to stem the slump in oil prices before the global deal agreed by the OPEC+ group takes effect on May 1. Oil prices slumped to less than $16 a barrel on Wednesday, hitting their lowest level since 1999, with the market awash with excess supply as the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer demand for fuels,” Reuters/Al-Arabiya reports.

Etihad/Virgin Australia – “Abu Dhabi’s Etihad was unable to provide financial assistance to Virgin Australia as a result of having to deal with its own pressures amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the airline said in a statement. On Tuesday, Virgin Australia – a major partner of Etihad’s – said that it had entered into voluntary administration after the Covid-19 crisis forced it into insolvency,” Arabian Business reports.

Oil Price – “Brent, the international oil benchmark, fell to the lowest level in more than two decades, a day after its US counterpart collapsed into negative territory. Brent, under which two-thirds of the world’s oil is traded, continued its decline from yesterday falling 13.55 per cent to trade at $16.71 per barrel at 11.18am UAE time, however it remains less volatile than West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark,” The National reports.

Sudan/Food Security – “Food security in Sudan faces new challenges as the government takes restrictive measures on stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus. The measures have greatly affected producers especially those working in the agriculture sector, which represents 44% of the Sudanese economy,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

UAE/Etisalat – “Etisalat Group on Wednesday reported a net profit of Dh2.2 billion for the first three months of 2020 (Q1) in their latest financial results, representing a two per cent decrease year on year. The company’s financial results also reported consolidated revenues of Dh13.1 billion, a one per cent increase compared to last year. The group’s revenue in the UAE was down three per cent to Dh7.6 billion, with the company attributing the fall to increased competition and slower economic activities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gulf News reports.

Turkey Economy – “Turkey’s economy is expected to contract this year for the first time in over a decade as the coronavirus pandemic slashes output through mid-year, and it’s unlikely to grow again until 2021, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday. The median forecast of 40 economists was for a contraction of 1.4 percent in 2020, with drops in the second and third quarters of 8.6 percent and 5.3 percent respectively,” Reuters/Arab News reports.

Bahrain – “Bahrain will slash spending by ministries and government agencies by 30% to help the country weather the coronavirus outbreak, a cabinet statement said on Monday after meeting. The Gulf island state’s government will also reschedule some construction and consulting projects in order to keep spending within the 2020 budget and make room for other spending needs emerging as a result of the disease’s spread,” Reuters/Zawya reports.

Iran/S. Korea – “Industrial Bank of Korea, one of South Korea’s largest banks, will pay $86 million to settle US and New York state criminal and civil charges it allowed an illegal transfer of more than $1 billion to Iran that violated US sanctions. Authorities said on Monday that IBK entered a two-year deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice and a non-prosecution agreement with New York Attorney General Letitia James,” Financial Tribune reports.

Emirates Airline – “Emirates airline looks to set to keep its passenger flights grounded until July at the earliest, according to the latest routes data. While the Dubai carrier is currently operating repatriation flights to select destinations, the latest update on its planned routes show that regular passenger flights have been delayed until at least the start of Q3 this year,” Arabian Business reports.

Maroc Telecom – “Morocco’s main telecommunications company, Maroc Telecom (IAM), reported a 4% growth in total revenue in the first quarter of 2020. IAM’s revenue now stands at MAD 9.3 billion ($911 million), the group said in a press release on Monday, April 20,” Morocco World News reports.

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 21

Middle East Business Telegraph Monitor – April 21

The top business/economic stories from the MENA region as reported in the regional and industry press – April 21

 

Oil Markets – “The day started like any other gloomy Monday in the oil market’s worst crisis in a generation. It ended with prices falling below zero, thrusting markets into a parallel universe where traders were willing to pay $40 a barrel just to get somebody to take crude off their hands,” Bloomberg/Gulf News reports.

Oil Markets – “US oil prices rebounded above zero Tuesday, a day after futures ended in negative territory for the first time as a coronavirus-triggered collapse in demand leaves the world awash in crude. In afternoon Asian trade, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for May delivery was changing hands at $1.67 a barrel after closing at -$37.63 in New York,” AFP/The Peninsula reports.

Dubai Expo – “The executive committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has unanimously agreed to propose the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai. The 12-delegate member states agreed to the request from the UAE Government that the global showcase be moved to run from October 1 2021 to March 31 2022, in light of the challenges posed by the current coronavirus pandemic,” Arabian Business reports.

Egypt Gas – “Egypt said it began production from two deepwater gas wells in the Mediterranean with output of 390 million cubic feet of gas and 1,400 barrels of gas condensate per day. The first well, Zohr-17, began production at the mammoth Zohr gas field after the completion of the digging in the field’s southern region, the petroleum ministry said in a statement on Tuesday,” Ahram Online reports.

Egypt Economy – “Egypt has lowered its growth target for fiscal year 2020-2021 to 3.5 percent, down from its original target of 5.8 percent, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala al-Saed announced,” Egypt Independent reports.

Iran/Covid-19 – “Iran’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases neared 85,000 on Tuesday, as the country continued to report double-digit numbers of deaths, health officials said. Infections from the coronavirus disease rose by 1,297 to reach 84,802 and the death toll increased to 5,297, with 88 new deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour was quoted as saying by ISNA,” Financial Tribune reports.

Qatar Airways – “Qatar Airways on Tuesday said mid-level employees and above will have their salaries halved for at least three months but that staff would be back paid when the airline could afford it. Partially deferring salaries was a temporary measure that is expected to last for three months starting April, the airline said, though cautioned it could be extended ‘depending on the economic situation,'” Reuters/Al-Arabiya reports.

Emirates Airline – Afraid to catch the coronavirus on the plane? Emirates airline announced on Tuesday that social distancing requirements will now be observed aboard its commercial passenger flights to provide peace of mind to travelers during these uncertain times. All its cabin crew will also wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which includes a safety visor, masks, gloves, and a disposable gown worn over their uniforms,” Zawya reports.

Algeria – Algerians are watching the collapse of oil prices with alarm as the energy markets on which the North African nation relies for most of its export revenues have been plunged into turmoil by the coronavirus crisis.The oil and gas producer has burnt through more than half its foreign currency reserves since 2014, when an earlier oil price rout began, while this year’s budget outlined a 9% cut in spending but was based on oil prices double today’s levels,” Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

GCC Equities – “The UAE and other Gulf equity markets plummeted on Tuesday after an unprecedented fall in the US oil price the previous day. Dubai Financial Market was down 2.3 per cent with 26 out of 28 scrips trading in the negative territory. The decline was led by Dubai Islamic Bank, Emaar Properties, Gulf Navigation, Damac Properties and Amanat,” Khaleej Times reports.

Etihad/Virgin Australia – “Etihad was unable to provide a financial lifeline to Virgin Australia because of the pressures created by the coronavirus pandemic on its own business, the Abu Dhabi-based airline has said. Virgin Australia on Tuesday said it had entered voluntary administration after the COVID-19 crisis forced it into insolvency. The airline is a major codeshare partner of Etihad and a major contributor to stopover travel through Abu Dhabi for long-haul east-west travel,” Arab News reports.

 

Martinez and Aboulafia on Air Travel, Mexico, Globalization and more…

Martinez and Aboulafia on Air Travel, Mexico, Globalization and more…

Two of the finest thinkers on matters globalization and fellow New Silk Road travelers, Andres Martinez and Richard Aboulafia, had a conversation recently about air travel, globalization, the airline industry, Mexico, Covid-19, and more.

The following are some excerpts of the column Andres wrote in Mexico Today

“There is a tendency in the middle of a crisis to yell ‘This changes everything,’” Aboulafia says, “but it very seldom does.” In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he recalls, plenty of people warned that flying would never be the same. “If they meant we’d no longer be able to take liquids past security, they were right,” he says, but wrong in suggesting that we wouldn’t take to the skies in equal numbers again. Worldwide, 4.3 billion passengers flew in 2018, more than twice as many as 15 years earlier…

 

The Mexican government’s unusual austerity is a source of alarm. Mirroring its refusal to provide meaningful emergency support for other employers across the economy, the López Obrador administration has not rushed to support this strategically important industry (one that employed 1.4 million Mexicans in 2018 and contributed an estimated $38 billion to the economy). 

 

Even before the pandemic, Mexico’s aviation sector was vastly underdeveloped when you consider the country’s demographics, economic potential, and geography. Judging by the state of Mexico’s aviation infrastructure, you would never guess Mexico has bet heavily on trade, integration with the US economy, and tourism for its national development. 

 

“Mexico is many ways the country that aviation forgot,” Aboulafia says.

 

[Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s] capricious decision to block completion of Mexico City’s desperately needed new airport is a sad case in point.  And now the very survival of some of Mexico’s airlines could be in doubt, particularly if the crisis (defined by both virus and the government’s indifference) lingers past the summer. 

For more on this excellent piece, check out Andres’ column in Mexico Today here.

Eastern Star Aviation Times Weekly – April 21

Eastern Star Aviation Times Weekly – April 21

Virgin Australia – Virgin Australia became the nation’s biggest corporate casualty of the coronavirus, calling in administrators after the outbreak deprived the debt-burdened airline of almost all income. Deloitte will take control of the company, the Brisbane-based airline said in a statement Tuesday. The administrators will be tasked with finding new investors to inject capital, reorganising borrowings or getting a buyer in an attempt to save the business,” South China Morning Post reports.

South African Airways – “Approximately a year ago at the Air Cargo Africa 2019 in Johannesburg, South African Airways’ (SAA) Group CEO Vuyani Jarana (who ended his term on July 31, 2019), shared different contours of the work in progress for saving the terminally ill company to Logistics Update Africa. But the lack of commitment to fund SAA by the government systematically undermined the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed. Now, SAA is planning to lay off its entire 4,700 employees, compelling to ground the 86-year-old national carrier,” Logistics Update Africa reports

Virgin Atlantic – “Virgin Atlantic needs government support to survive the coronavirus crisis, the airline’s founder warned today. In a 20 April blog post, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson writes: ‘Together with the team at Virgin Atlantic, we will do everything we can to keep the airline going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for,'” FlightGlobal reports.

United Airlines – “United Airlines on Monday reported a $2.1 billion pre-tax loss between January and March, the first U.S. carrier to place a dollar amount on first quarter carnage, a period in which demand went from strong to nearly non-existent within weeks because of a once-in-a-century global pandemic. First quarter generally is weakest for U.S airlines, but United has in recent years been making money, reporting $367 million in profit in the first three months of last year. As recently as January, executives expected another strong quarter, reporting reasonable demand in most markets, including China,” Skift reports.

Airlines Global – “Airlines have been mauled by COVID-19 and the industry has cried out for help from governments to survive a crisis that could cripple a key sector of the economy. As countries closed their borders and resorts shut down for an indefinite period, airlines grounded their planes and furloughed thousands of workers. In early April, global traffic was 80 percent below the same period a year earlier, quashing recent forecasts that the number of airline passengers would double within 20 years with annual growth of three to four percent,” AFP/Le Journal de L’Aviation reports.

China Airlines – “Two of China’s largest airlines have warned of a ‘substantial loss’ for their first-quarter financial results. Both China Eastern and China Southern Airlines flagged the financial hit in their monthly traffic results for March, where they note that even with ‘timely measures’ taken to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak, a financial loss was inevitable,” FlightGlobal reports.

India Airlines –  “India won’t allow commercial flights to operate until it is confident that the coronavirus outbreak is under control, the aviation minister said, piling further pressure on the country’s cash-strapped airlines,” Bloomberg/Gulf News reports.

Aircraft – “The Covid-19 pandemic has emptied the skies of busy traffic, posing an additional challenge to cash-strapped airlines to find enough tarmac space and maintain grounded jets in top shape for an eventual return to service. About 64 per cent of the world’s 26,000 passenger planes are currently grounded, according to data provider Cirium, as the coronavirus devastates air travel demand and unleashes the worst peacetime crisis in the aviation industry’s history,” The National reports.

Malaysia Airways/Air Asia – “Merging money-losing state carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd with budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd is one of the options to ‘save’ them as the Covid-19 crisis batters the industry, Malaysia’s second-most senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali told Reuters on Friday,” Reuters/Edge Markets Malaysia reports.

South African Airways – “Approximately a year ago at the Air Cargo Africa 2019 in Johannesburg, South African Airways’ (SAA) Group CEO Vuyani Jarana (who ended his term on July 31, 2019), shared different contours of the work in progress for saving the terminally ill company to Logistics Update Africa. But the lack of commitment to fund SAA by the government systematically undermined the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed. Now, SAA is planning to lay off its entire 4,700 employees, compelling to ground the 86-year-old national carrier,” Logistics Update Africa reports

South African Airways – “Regional carrier South African Airways could be one of the first victims of the storm that has hit the global airline industry as it has been denied any further funding by its government owner. The national carrier must now look for other ways to recover from the coronavirus crisis and a local form of bankruptcy protection. SAA’s external debt is guaranteed by the state in the event of the carrier’s collapse,” Business Day reports.

Etihad Airways – “Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to start scheduled passenger services on May 1 under a reduced schedule to remain in place until June 30, subject to the status of United Arab Emirates travel restrictions, the company announced Thursday. Meanwhile, Etihad has revised the launch date of its inaugural service to Vienna from May 22 to July 1. Etihad continues to operate a growing schedule of repatriation flights and special cargo services carrying perishables, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies. The airline has repatriated nearly 600 UAE nationals on return services,” Aviation International News reports.

Emirates/Covid-19 – “It was only a matter of time. Emirates is now officially the first airline to test passengers for the coronavirus before they board. Though most nations remain in some form of lockdown, and air travel has slowed to a near halt, the company took the reduction in traffic as an opportunity to begin its testing program this week. Beginning with a flight that left from Dubai headed for Tunisia, the first blood tests were administered by the Dubai Health Authority to passengers with results rendered in 10 minutes,” RobbReport reports.

Singapore Airlines – “Covid-19’s grounding of airlines worldwide has ensured that only the fittest and best-supported fliers will survive. With rich government backing, Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) is well-positioned to ride out the turbulence and boost its post-pandemic global market share. Singapore is now estimated to have the world’s largest number of idle aircraft after global travel restrictions forced SIA to ground 96% of its approximately 200-plane fleet on March 23. With infections sharply rising in the city-state and elsewhere, it is unclear when normal operations will resume,” Asia Times reports.

Middle East Airlines – “Middle Eastern carriers are resuming limited passenger flights, using the grounding of airplanes to perform extensive maintenance checks and introducing new airport testing and mask wearing requirements in response to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Both Emirates and Etihad added more cities to their flight schedules this week, as both carriers have slowly been resuming international flying since the beginning of April. Emirates first received approval from UAE civil aviation officials to start carrying passengers on flights Dubai to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels and Zurich, with four flights a week to London Heathrow Apr. 2,” Aviation Today reports.

Ethiopian Airlines – “Ethiopian Airlines on Tuesday announced it had lost $550 million in revenue since January attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the airlines were forced to suspend passenger flights to 91 international destinations due to the global pandemic,” The East African reports.

Cambodia Aviation – “Vietnam Airlines has sold its 49 per cent stake in national flag carrier airline Cambodia Angkor Air to undisclosed buyers, State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) spokesman Sin Chansereyvutha told the Council of Ministers on Thursday. Also included in the sale were five A321 aircrafts with a total liquidation value of $37 million,” The Phnom Penh Post reports.

China Aviation – “Airlines in China reported a total loss of 33.62 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion) in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic hit travel demand, the country’s aviation regulator said yesterday. In February, the airlines suffered a record loss of 20.96 billion yuan as large parts of the country remained on lockdown amid efforts to curb the spread of the virus,” Shenzhen Daily reports.

ANA Holdings – “Japanese airline ANA Holdings on Monday slashed its annual net profit forecast by 71 percent over massive falls in demand and major cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.For the past fiscal year to March 2020, the firm said it now expects a net profit of 27 billion yen ($194 million), down from an earlier projection of 94 billion yen,” Japan Today reports.

Garuda Indonesia – “National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is cutting its employee salaries by 10 to 50 percent from this month to June as the company struggles to stay afloat amid pressures from a broad-based slump in traveling activities. Garuda president director Irfan Setiaputra said the company resorted to salary cuts to maintain business sustainability as the coronavirus pandemic has hit travel-related businesses hard,” The Jakarta Post reports.

Lion Air – “Thai Lion Air is reducing its workforce again amid the freezing of its business due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. The airline informed its staff in a statement last week that almost 120 employees with less than a year’s experience would be let go on the understanding that they would be the first priority for recruitment in the future if business returns to normal,” Bangkok Post reports.

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