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Friday, March 01, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Pratap John
Pratap John
Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. He has mainstream media experience of nearly 30 years in specialties such as energy, business & finance, banking, telecom and aviation, and covered many major events across the globe.
A passenger aircraft flies from Frankfurt Airport in Germany. In its ‘2023 Annual Safety Report’ for global aviation, IATA said aviation continues to make progress on safety with several 2023 parameters showing “best-ever” results.
Business
2023 'safest year for flying' by several parameters: IATA

In its ‘2023 Annual Safety Report’ for global aviation, IATA said aviation continues to make progress on safety with several 2023 parameters showing “best-ever” results.There were no hull losses or fatal accidents involving passenger jet aircraft in 2023, IATA noted Wednesday.However, there was a single fatal accident involving a turboprop aircraft, resulting in 72 fatalities. There were 37mn aircraft movements in 2023 (jet and turboprop), an increase of 17% on the previous year.Report highlights include:• The all accident rate was 0.80 per million sectors in 2023 (one accident for every 1.26mn flights), an improvement from 1.30 in 2022 and the lowest rate in over a decade. This rate outperformed the five-year (2019-2023) rolling average of 1.19 (an average one accident for every 880,293 flights).The fatality risk improved to 0.03 in 2023 from 0.11 in 2022 and 0.11 for the five years, 2019-2023. At this level of safety, on average a person would have to travel by air every day for 103,239 years to experience a fatal accident.IATA member airlines and IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registered airlines experienced no fatal accident in 2023.A single fatal accident occurred in 2023, on a turboprop aircraft, resulting in 72 fatalities. This is reduced from five fatal accidents in 2022 and an improvement on the five-year average (2019-2023) which was five. As for the Middle East and North Africa region that covers Qatar and the GCC, the all accident rate improved from 1.30 accidents per million sectors in 2022 to 1.16 in 2023 and was also better than its five-year average of 0.96.While no accidents were related to Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) interference, it has emerged as a critical area of concern in the region.The 2023 all accident rate improved compared to 2022 for all regions with the exceptions of North America and Asia Pacific. No regions experienced a jet hull loss in 2023.Asia-Pacific recorded a fatal turboprop hull loss, a loss-of-control accident in Nepal in January 2023 with 72 fatalities. As a consequence, all regions except Asia-Pacific recorded a fatality risk of zero in 2023.IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said, "2023 safety performance continues to demonstrate that flying is the safest mode of transport. Aviation places its highest priority on safety and that shows in the 2023 performance. Jet operations saw no hull losses or fatalities. 2023 also saw the lowest fatality risk and ‘all accident’ rate on record.“A single fatal turboprop accident with 72 fatalities, however, reminds us that we can never take safety for granted. And two high profile accidents in the first month of 2024 show that, even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve. This is what we have done throughout our history. And we will continue to make flying ever safer.”

Air turbulence due to irregular and often unpredictable movement of air currents in the atmosphere can severely impact crew and passenger safety. Although modern aircraft are designed to withstand turbulence, severe turbulence or encounters with unexpected weather phenomena can put stress on the airframe.
Business
Airline industry gathers accurate, real-time, globally scaled weather data for turbulence mitigation

Air turbulence due to irregular and often unpredictable movement of air currents in the atmosphere can severely impact crew and passenger safety. .text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[146592]**As climate change continues to impact weather patterns, managing turbulence has become challenging. This has implications for both safety and efficiency of flight.In 2023, more than 380mn "turbulence observations" were generated by the global aviation industry, according to International Air Transport Association.At present, some 21 airlines participate in the IATA Turbulence Aware Platform with more than 2,000 aircraft providing data daily.Turbulence is certainly a major safety concern. Every year, a significant number of people get injured by turbulence, while not wearing seatbelts. Cabin attendants are particularly at risk.Occasionally, turbulence events require an aircraft to divert, with all the inconvenience and associated costs that entails. Lacking accurate information to guide them, pilots may opt to minimise risk, but this can adversely impact fuel costs.With industry-wide sharing of actual occurrences, in real time, pilots could take appropriate action with confidence.Although modern aircraft are designed to withstand turbulence, severe turbulence or encounters with unexpected weather phenomena can put stress on the airframe. This can result in damage to the aircraft structure.Highlighting the importance of its Turbulence Aware Platform, IATA says that with "objective, automated, in-situ" turbulence reports, dispatchers, pilots and cabin attendants can know exactly where turbulence and smooth air are, and take appropriate action, be able to reassure passengers and cabin attendants and optimise fuel burn.Recently, IATA expanded transmission of its turbulence aware data for use within industry-leading aviation solutions by The Weather Company, which serves a majority of North American commercial airlines and many others globally.With this enhancement, participating airlines will soon be able to access Eddy Dissipation Rate (EDR) turbulence data directly through ‘Fusion’ and ‘Pilotbrief’ tools by The Weather Company. IATA Turbulence Aware will be enabled as an additional data layer within these tools, allowing pilots, dispatchers and flight planners to have needed turbulence observations integrated directly into their mission critical applications in one place rather than relying on multiple screens.Turbulence can impact crew and passenger safety, route planning, arrival and departure times, customer satisfaction, equipment maintenance and more.Combining IATA Turbulence Aware observations with forecasts from The Weather Company aims to better mitigate the impacts of weather and turbulence for contributing airlines globally.Accessing real-time, accurate turbulence information enables pilots and dispatchers to choose optimal flight paths, avoid turbulence and fly at optimum levels to maximise fuel efficiency and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.IATA Turbulence Aware was launched in 2018 to help airlines mitigate the impact of turbulence, which is a leading cause of passenger and crew injuries and higher fuel costs each year.The platform pools anonymised EDR turbulence data from thousands of flights operated by participating airlines. EDR is the official ICAO and WMO atmospheric turbulence intensity metric.“As weather grows more impactful due to a changing climate, it is critical now more than ever for aviation leaders to incorporate accurate, real-time, globally scaled weather data and insights within decisions,” said Ravi Vanmali, head of aviation for The Weather Company.“Reliable weather data and forecasts, combined with human expertise, can help airlines and pilots plan around inclement weather and turbulence, improve crew and passenger safety, and mitigate impact to the bottom line.”“It is our aim to make access to turbulence-related data as simple as possible. By collaborating with The Weather Company, IATA Turbulence Aware data will be available to pilots and dispatchers through existing flight deck and flight planning applications and tools, enhancing the decision-making process in turbulence mitigation and avoidance”, said Frederic Leger, IATA’s senior vice president (Commercial Products & Services).While turbulence itself is a common and generally harmless phenomenon, it can have various consequences on airline crew and passenger safety, depending on its severity.To mitigate the impact of air turbulence, the airline industry employs various strategies and technologies. These include weather forecasting and route planning, advanced avionics and radar systems, communication and co-ordination, turbulence detection systems, improved aircraft design, training and education and in-flight monitoring and reporting.While these measures can certainly help mitigate the impact of turbulence, it is not always possible to eliminate it entirely. However, through a combination of technology, training, and communication, the airline industry can work to enhance safety and passenger comfort during flights.

Ooredoo Qatar CEO Sheikh Ali bin Jabor bin Mohammad al-Thani with Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Badr Mohammed al-Meer at the event where Ooredoo signed a strategic partnership with Qatar Airways to develop and co-design a state-of-the-art ‘Hybrid Multi-Cloud’ environment. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Ooredoo, Qatar Airways in partnership to develop, co-design 'Hybrid Multi-Cloud' environment

Ooredoo has signed a strategic partnership with Qatar Airways to develop and co-design a state-of-the-art ‘Hybrid Multi-Cloud’ environment. This cutting-edge solution will bring together the prowess of world-renowned Hyperscalers, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, coupled with the resilience and security of Qatar Airways’ dedicated Private Cloud, powered by global technology providers including Nutanix, F5 and Cisco. Commenting on the partnership at an event Monday, Sheikh Ali bin Jabor bin Mohammad al-Thani, CEO, Ooredoo Qatar, said: “As pioneers in our respective fields, both Ooredoo and Qatar Airways recognise that innovation is about adopting new technologies and reshaping how we connect with the world. Through this collaboration, we are setting a new standard for digital transformations globally.” Reflecting on the joint venture’s potential, Sheikh Ali said: “At Ooredoo, we believe that the future belongs to those who innovate. By joining with Qatar Airways, we are making a bold statement—that together, we are poised to redefine the boundaries of innovation leveraging Hybrid cloud, Analytics and AI, ensuring that Qatar remains a beacon of progress in an ever-evolving digital landscape. “Trust is the foundation of any lasting partnership. With Qatar Airways, we’re not just building a robust digital infrastructure but fostering a bond based on mutual respect and a shared vision for a hyperconnected world.” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Badr Mohammed al-Meer shared his insights on the strategic partnership, stating: “Qatar Airways is an unparalleled leader in the aviation industry and consistently offers the best-in-class products and services. “Our commitment to technology innovation and adoption has been a key driver for our success and growth. In our partnership with Ooredoo, we are implementing Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure and Platform services by utilising leading technologies." He added, "This partnership allows us to offer unmatched services to our customers, ensuring seamless scalability, top-tier performance, and robust security. We are thrilled to collaborate with industry giants like Microsoft, Google, and Nutanix to build an efficient and secure Cloud Infrastructure.” One of the key elements of this transformation is the unparalleled agility it promises. The Hybrid Multi-Cloud setup will ensure that Qatar Airways has the flexibility to choose where its workloads reside depending on a host of factors, including but not limited to business demands, data security, data sovereignty and latency. By harnessing the expansive capabilities of the Public Cloud, Qatar Airways is poised to accelerate innovation and rapidly deploy new and exciting services to continually improve its customers’ experience, while operating its high-performance workloads that require unmatched speeds, low latency, and iron-clad security in its dedicated Private Cloud environment. Ooredoo will also provide Qatar Airways with a network fabric that enables direct links between the airlines’ premises and both Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud platforms. This monumental transformation highlights the shared vision between Qatar Airways and Ooredoo to charter a path of innovation and endless opportunity in today’s digital world. “This partnership reinforces Ooredoo’s commitment to innovating ICT solutions that align with evolving market needs and our relentless drive to partner with the best-in-class technology providers to support our customers’ requirements in a continually changing business environment,” an Ooredoo statement said.

Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s Federal Councillor.
Business
Several possible fields exist for increased co-operation with Qatar, says Swiss federal councillor

The ongoing visit of the high-level Swiss delegation visit to Qatar will provide the platform and framework for bilateral business relationships to flourish, says delegation head and Switzerland’s Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.“However, it is important to note that Switzerland works bottom-up. It is ultimately the businesses, which decide where to invest and who to trade with,” noted Parmelin, also the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times in Doha Wednesday.With the Qatar National Vision 2030, the country is pursuing the goal of diversifying its economy and expanding its infrastructure, which opens numerous opportunities for Swiss companies, Parmelin said.“There are several possible fields for an increased co-operation. Swiss companies are traditionally strong in the clean-tech sector, infrastructure sector (such as railways) or the medical sector,” he pointed out.On his current visit to Qatar, which follows a successful one to Saudi Arabia, Parmelin said, “My visit to Qatar, during which I will be accompanied by a large delegation of leading business representatives, aims to evaluate how Swiss companies can potentially contribute to the implementation of QNV 2030 and take further advantage of the solid foundation of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and Qatar to create win-win situations for our economies.“For this, I will meet with various ministers, starting with HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani. Then, together with HE the Minister of Finance, Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, I will also open the financial and economic dialogue between the State Secretariat for International Finance, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Qatari Ministry of Finance.“Moreover, at the invitation of HE the Minister of Municipality, Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiyah my delegation and I will attend the agricultural and horticultural Expo 2023 Doha, during which I will contribute to an event on innovation in the agri-food sector.Asked whether Switzerland planned to sign new agreements with Qatar, he said ‘No’.“No new agreements are planned to be signed, as there is already a solid foundation of bilateral agreements between Switzerland and Qatar. The Vision 2030 offers interesting opportunities for Swiss businesses. It’s important to see these changes first-hand, to get a better feel for the country and also to better understand the current developments.”On the volume of current bilateral trade between Switzerland and Qatar, Parmelin said that in 2022, Qatar was Switzerland’s third most important trading partner in the Middle East, with trade in goods amounting to over $2bn.“The highlight of the bilateral trade is its volume over the years, which has hovered around the $1bn mark, with 2022 representing a large increase. Given the size of both our countries population, this is an impressive trade statistic,” the senior Swiss minister said.A Joint Commission on Financial and Economic Areas was established in 2022 to promote and strengthen bilateral relationship between the two countries in the areas of finance and economy for mutual benefit. The first session of the Joint Commission was held in Switzerland. The second session will be held in Doha Thursday.Parmelin touched upon Switzerland’s renowned tourism capabilities and said, “I can highly recommend Switzerland as a tourist destination. However, Switzerland cannot determine the entry requirements on its own, since a Swiss visa is valid throughout the European “Schengen area”.Asked whether there are plans (for Qatar Airways) to add more destinations or enhance the number of weekly flights, Parmelin said, “This is something that is regulated by the market and the relevant authorities. Qatar Airways can apply for additional slots at any time.”

Gulf Times
Business
QatarEnergy drills 20+ appraisal wells past 10 years; confirms huge increase in NF gas reserves

The drilling of more than 20 appraisal wells in the past 10 years using state-of-the-art technologies has confirmed significant increase in North Field (NF) gas reserves, to more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet, said HE the Minister of State for Energy affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi.Addressing a press conference at the QatarEnergy headquarters yesterday, al-Kaabi said, “I want to specifically mention the tireless work over the past two decades to evaluate the giant North Field and unlock its potential, especially in sectors that were not covered extensively by previous drilling and evaluation work.”Most recently, QatarEnergy has focused its efforts and attention on determining how far west the North Field extends in order to evaluate the production potential from those areas.“We have continued geological and engineering studies and have drilled a number of appraisal wells in that area.“I am pleased to announce today that, praise be to God, these great efforts have confirmed, through technical tests of the appraisal wells, the extension of the North Field’s productive layers further towards the west, which means the ability to produce significant quantities of gas from this new sector.“Recent studies have shown that the North Field contains huge additional gas quantities in the North Field estimated at 240tn cubic feet, which raises Qatar’s gas reserves from 1,760tn cubic feet to more than 2,000tn cubic feet, and the condensates reserves from 70 to more than 80bn barrels, in addition to large quantities of liquefied petroleum gas, ethane, and helium.”Al-Kaabi noted, “These are very important results of great dimensions that will take Qatar’s gas industry to new horizons, as they will enable us to begin developing a new LNG project from the North Field’s western sector with a production capacity of about 16 MTPY.“As such, Qatar's total LNG production will reach about 142MTPY when this new expansion is completed before the end of this decade. This represents an increase of almost 85% compared to current production levels. With the completion of this project, Qatar’s total hydrocarbon production will exceed 7.25mn barrels of oil equivalent per day.”The minister revealed that QatarEnergy will immediately commence the basic engineering works necessary to ensure that the planned progress is achieved according to the approved schedule for this new project, which will be called the ‘North Field West’.“These expansion project, which we are working to implement, aim to achieve optimal utilisation and management of our natural resources with the aim of contributing to what our wise leadership aspires to in terms of ensuring the economic and social well-being of current future generations of Qatar as articulated by the Qatar National Vision 2030.“At the same time, these projects reaffirm QatarEnergy’s commitment to reinforce its global leadership in the production and supply of LNG and live up to its commitment to provide an economic, safe and reliable energy source, giving priority to environmental sustainability for a more prosperous and brighter future.”Minister al-Kaabi also expressed his sincere thanks and gratitude to His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his wise leadership and guidance, and the unlimited support of Qatar’s energy sector.

HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, also the President and CEO of QatarEnergy, addressing the press conference Sunday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Business
Qatar announces raising LNG production capacity to 142mn tpy by 2030

QatarEnergy has announced that it is proceeding with a new LNG expansion project, the “North Field West” project, to further raise Qatar’s LNG production capacity to 142mn tonnes per year (MTPY) before the end of this decade, representing an increase of almost 85% from current production levels.HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, also the President and CEO of QatarEnergy, made the announcement during a press conference held at QatarEnergy’s Headquarters in Doha Sunday.Addressing local and international media, Minister al-Kaabi said extensive appraisal drilling and testing have confirmed that productive layers of Qatar’s giant North Field extend towards the west, which allows for developing a new LNG production project in Ras Laffan.Al-Kaabi said, “QatarEnergy has focused its efforts and attention on determining how far west the North Field’s productive layers extend in order to evaluate the production potential from those areas. We have continued geological and engineering studies and have drilled a number of appraisal wells in that area.“I am pleased today to announce that, praise be to God, these great efforts have confirmed, through technical tests of the appraisal wells, the extension of the North Field’s productive layers further towards the west, which means the ability to produce significant additional quantities of gas from this new sector.”Minister al-Kaabi also announced the presence of huge additional gas quantities in the North Field estimated at 240tn cubic feet, which raises Qatar’s gas reserves from 1,760tn cubic feet to more than 2,000tn cubic feet, and the condensates reserves from 70 to more than 80bn barrels, in addition to large quantities of liquefied petroleum gas, ethane, and helium.Al-Kaabi noted, “These are very important results of great dimensions that will take Qatar’s gas industry to new horizons, as they will enable us to begin developing a new LNG project from the North Field’s western sector with a production capacity of about 16 MTPY.“As such, Qatar's total LNG production will reach about 142MTPY when this new expansion is completed before the end of this decade. This represents an increase of almost 85% compared to current production levels. With the completion of this project, Qatar’s total hydrocarbon production will exceed 7.25mn barrels of oil equivalent per day.”Al-Kaabi revealed that QatarEnergy will immediately commence the basic engineering works necessary to ensure that the planned progress is achieved according to the approved schedule for this new project, which will be called the ‘North Field West’.He said QatarEnergy continues work to implement various elements of the North Field production expansion projects, including the North Field East project and the North Field South project.“I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to my colleagues the managers and employees at QatarEnergy and in the energy sector in Qatar, women and men, Qataris and expatriates, who work as one family tirelessly and with dedication to advance the energy sector for the benefit of Qatar, QatarEnergy, and our partners. And I would like to say: I am proud of you all.” Minister al-Kaabi concluded his remarks by expressing sincere thanks and gratitude to His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his wise leadership and guidance, and the unlimited support of Qatar’s energy sector.HE The Minister Of State For Energy Affairs Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Also The President And CEO Of QatarEnergy, Addressing The Press Conference Sunday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.

A general view of the coastal city of Lusail (file). This year will see the completion of a “high concentration” of apartments ValuStrat said and noted most under-construction residential buildings are located in Fox Hills, Lusail, and in La Plage South, according to ValuStrat.
Business
21 residential projects expected to be added in Qatar in 2024: ValuStrat

Some 21 residential projects are expected to be added in Qatar in 2024, with more than 60% in Doha located in Lusail and the rest in Doha, researcher ValuStrat said in a report. This year will see the completion of a “high concentration” of apartments ValuStrat said and noted most under-construction residential buildings are located in Fox Hills, Lusail, and in La Plage South, Doha. According to the researcher, the country’s residential segment will experience an “annual depreciation reflecting a gradual correction” in the sales market, which it said will be reflected on its ValuStrat Price Index (VPI). In the office segment, for 2024, projects in the pipeline are expected to reach 350,000sq m gross leaseable area (GLA), representing an estimated increase of 50% in the forecast. With the majority of the projects being delayed during 2023, oversupply is projected to exceed 2mn sq m GLA, which may continue to put “downward pressure” on the performance of the commercial sector. In the retail segment, ValuStrat noted Shop Qatar, a recurring January event, has elevated mall footfall and consumer engagement around the country. Most of the retail expected to be added during 2024 is developed in conjunction with mixed-use developments such as residential clusters or hospitality. The researcher noted that an upcoming development includes a Souq on Qetaifan Island North in Lusail, projected to be the size of a community mall, spanning around 11,000sq m GLA. As per ValuStrat research, for the year 2024 more than 2,225 keys are expected to be added to the hospitality stock. Qatar’s first Habitas hotel is commencing operations in 2024 in Ras Abrouq, with 42 villas, adventure, retail, and F&B the hotel promotes a stage for art exhibits, concerts, and film screenings. IHG Hotels & Resorts is set to complete its first Velero Hotel Vignette Collection in Lusail, Doha in the first quarter (Q1) 2024. Qatar’s tourism segment will be a major beneficiary of the Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar (International Horticulture Expo 2023-2024) expected to bring in 3mn tourists during the event period. Generally on the local economy, the researcher noted, “As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Qatar’s real GDP growth is expected to reduce to 2.2% during 2024 moving towards further adjustment after the World Cup boost. The US Federal Reserve has indicated the possibility of at least three rate cuts in 2024. It is anticipated that the Qatar Central Bank will likely follow suit. “Qatar’s inflation is forecasted to reach 2.3% in 2024, as per the IMF.”

The global aviation industry faces various challenges that impact its operations, growth, and sustainability. Some of these challenges include fuel price volatility, geopolitics, global economic conditions, environmental concerns, infrastructure constraints and cybersecurity threats
Business
Aviation transitioning to net zero CO2 goal by 2050 comes at a cost!

The global aviation industry faces various challenges that impact its operations, growth, and sustainability..text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[143634]**Some of these challenges include fuel price volatility, geopolitics, global economic conditions, environmental concerns, infrastructure constraints and cybersecurity threats.That said, the aviation industry made notable progress and recovery during 2023, following a few years of significant downturn mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.Full year 2023 was at just over 94% of where the industry was in 2019. And that consisted of very strong performance in domestic markets, almost 4% ahead of 2019, with international markets lagging at just over 88%, according to the global body of airlines- the International Air Transport Association.Looking forward, IATA estimates that over the next 20 years, the industry will grow at about 3.3% every year. That is significantly lower than the growth the industry witnessed during the period 2010 to 2019, noted IATA director general Willie Walsh.“But I think it does reflect some of the challenges that we as an industry are facing and will face going into the future. Infrastructure constraints both in the air and on the ground. Supply chain issues which have now been a feature of the industry for a number of years and are likely to continue for a few more years.“The delay and delivery of new aircraft, the problems in relation to engines, labour shortages in some parts of the world, and significantly the cost impact of our transition to net zero in 2050.“Because whatever way you look at this, there will be a cost associated with transitioning to net zero. And ultimately, that costs will have to be reflected in the ticket prices that we charge our customers, which will have a dampening effect on the level of growth that the industry sees going forward.”IATA looks at six major geographic regions when assessing the industry’s economic performance. That's Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North America.In 1990, African airlines contributed 2.2% of global aviation. Asia-Pacific carriers were 19.7%, Europe 28%, Latin America and Caribbean 5.4%, Middle East carriers 2.4% and a lot has been written about what has happened in the Middle East.But significantly, North American carriers accounted for 42% of the global markets.Now if one roll forward and look at 2019, one sees Africa continuing at 2.1%. But significant growth was seen in the Asia-Pacific region, reaching almost 35% of the global market in 2019. Europe remained pretty static at 27%, Latin America 5%, the Middle East has grown from 2.4% to 9.1%, and North American carriers had reduced from 42% to just over 22%.The figures for 2023 are broadly similar, IATA says. Asia Pacific, reflecting the fact that the recovery has been slightly slower in international markets at about 32%.A look at the major domestic markets indicate the domestic market in China in 1990 was just over 1% of all global activity, and India about 0.2%.Looking forward at 2023, the Chinese domestic market now represents over 11%, of total commercial aviation, and India has grown to almost 1.8%.Significant growth was seen in these markets in that period.“And I think when you look at the demographics of the world, it doesn't take much to imagine what is going to happen in these countries going forward, particularly in India, which I think represents a fantastic opportunity for the industry,” Walsh says.He said the aviation industry is absolutely committed to achieving its “net zero CO2 goal” in 2050. And we cannot fail or falter in our efforts to achieve that goal.“It is absolutely essential that we work together to ensure that we can credibly provide people with confidence that we have a pathway to decarbonise our industry. And I think we can take a lot of confidence from what we've achieved already.“If you look at the CO2 produced by the industry in 2000, and compare that to what we did in 2019 just before the pandemic, our CO2 footprint increased by almost 54%. But during that same period, passenger traffic grew by 175%. So, there is complete disconnect between passenger growth and our C02 growth.”Central to achieving the industry’s goal will be the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), Walsh insists.“I believe the industry has shown strong demand for this product. Every single drop of sustainable aviation fuel that has been produced has been used by the industry.”In 2020, 2021, 2022, during the height of the pandemic, the industry continued to invest in this expensive product.“And I have absolutely no doubt that we will continue to do so. What we need to see as an industry is greater production. We need to see governments providing the incentive for production to significantly increase. And with that increase in production, I guarantee you that the airlines will use all of the fuel produced despite the cost impact that will represent,” Walsh added.Undoubtedly, addressing critical challenges facing the industry requires a collaborative effort from industry stakeholders, governments, and regulatory bodies to create a sustainable and resilient aviation sector.

HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi speaking during the the foundation stone for the Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex, which is one of the largest in the world.
Business
$6bn world scale Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex to have multiplier effects on Qatar economy

Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex will have multiplier effects on Qatar’s economy as it is expected to generate significant economic benefits for the country including increased tax revenue and foreign investment, noted HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi.On Monday, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani laid the foundation stone for the $6bn Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex, one of the largest in the world, which will raise Qatar’s overall petrochemical production capacity to about 14mn tonnes a year by the end of 2026.The Ras Laffan Petrochemicals complex consists of an ethane cracker with a capacity of 2.1mn tonnes of ethylene per year.The 435-acre project site also includes two polyethylene trains with a combined output of 1.7mn tonnes per year of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) polymer products.QatarEnergy has joined hands with Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) on the projected and created a joint venture, in which QatarEnergy will own a 70% equity share, and CPChem 30% stake.Together their large and diverse portfolio will not only help meet the world’s growing needs for advanced plastics and petrochemicals, but also enable balanced growth and facilitate human development in a responsible and sustainable manner.Speaking at Ras Laffan on Monday, al-Kaabi noted Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex is QatarEnergy’s largest investment ever in country's petrochemical sector, and marks an important milestone in the country’s downstream expansion strategy.The petrochemical complex will not only facilitate further expansion in Qatar’s downstream and petrochemical sectors, but will also reinforce the country’s integrated position as a major global player in the upstream, LNG and downstream sectors.In a few years, the Ras Laffan petrochemicals complex will help meet the rising global demand for high-density polyethylene, when the largest ethane cracker in the Middle East and one of the largest in the world begins production in 2026.Polyethylene is used in the production of durable goods like pipe for natural gas and water delivery and recreational products such as kayaks and coolers. It is also used in packaging applications to protect and preserve food and keep medical supplies sterile.  The facility will be constructed with modern, energy-saving technology and use ethane for feedstock, which along with other measures, is expected to result in lower greenhouse gas emissions than similar global facilities.The integrated olefins and polyethylene facility will be utilising “state-of-the-art design and technology” during its construction and operation to promote energy efficiency.It is important to stress the unique environmental attributes of this world-scale complex. It will have lower waste and greenhouse gas emissions, when compared with similar global facilities.“Our prominent standing in the petrochemical industry will be further strengthened when we commence production of the Golden Triangle Polymers Plant in 2026, which we are developing in the US state of Texas at a cost of $8.5bn in partnership with Chevron Phillips Chemical, and which is considered the biggest in the world,” al-Kaabi noted.The joint venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and QatarEnergy is named for the Golden Triangle region encompassing the cities of Orange, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas.Chevron Phillips Chemical President and CEO Bruce Chinn said, “This project advances CPChem’s long-held strategy to expand its operations in regions where feedstock is reliable and abundant and will help meet the global demand for polyethylene products.“CPChem and QatarEnergy have a long history of safely building and operating petrochemical facilities, and this celebration represents the next step toward bringing these world-scale assets into our successful portfolio here in Qatar.”The facility is designed to use modern, energy-saving technology, which along with other measures, is expected to result in lower greenhouse gas emissions intensity than similar global facilities.QatarEnergy and CPChem successfully operate three joint ventures in Qatar – Qatar Chemical Company Ltd., Qatar Chemical Company II Ltd. and Ras Laffan Olefins Company.

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi and other dignitaries at the foundation stone laying programme of the Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex on Monday.
Qatar
Amir lays foundation stone for $6bn world scale Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani laid the foundation stone for the $6bn Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex, one of the largest in the world, which will raise Qatar’s overall petrochemical production capacity to about 14mn tonnes a year by the end of 2026.The groundbreaking ceremony for the world-scale integrated polymers complex was held at Ras Laffan Industrial City, and attended by HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, also the President and CEO of QatarEnergy, Mark Lashier, President and CEO of Phillips 66, Bruce Chinn, President and CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical, and senior executives from QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical.The complex will house an ethane cracker with a capacity of 2.1mn tonnes per year of ethylene, making it the largest in the Middle East and one of the largest in the world, and raising Qatar’s ethylene production capacity by more than 40%.The 435-acre site also includes two polyethylene trains with a combined annual output of 1.7mn tonnes of high-density Polyethylene (HDPE) polymer products, raising Qatar’s overall production by about 50%.QatarEnergy holds an equity share of 70% in the Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex, with Chevron Phillips Chemical owning the remaining 30%.Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, al-Kaabi highlighted the project’s unique environmental qualities, and the world-class construction, operation, and technology standards, all designed to ensure energy savings, and significant reduction of emissions and hydrocarbon waste compared with similar global facilities.“The Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex is being built at a cost of $6bn, making it the largest investment in history of QatarEnergy in Qatar’s petrochemicals sector. There is no doubt that this is an important landmark in QatarEnergy’s downstream expansion strategy as it will reinforce our integrated position as a global energy player and generate significant economic benefits for the country,” the minister said.“Our prominent standing in the petrochemical industry will be further strengthened when we commence production of the Golden Triangle Polymers Plant in 2026, which we are developing in the US state of Texas at a cost of $8.5bn in partnership with Chevron Phillips Chemical, and which is considered the biggest in the world,” al-Kaabi noted.Al-Kaabi expressed his thanks to the management and staff of Chevron Phillips Chemical, QatarEnergy’s partner in this project, and extended his appreciation to the dedicated teams from QatarEnergy who are working diligently to implement this project as well as its contractors.“I am honoured to extend ample thanks to His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, for his patronage of this event and honouring us with his presence, and for his unlimited support to the energy sector,” al-Kaabi added.Later addressing a press conference along with Chinn, the minister said the Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex is expected to generate significant economic benefits for the country including increased tax revenue and foreign investment.Earlier the JV partners – QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) announced they have secured $4.4bn financing for the Ras Laffan Petrochemicals project.The senior debt financing package comprises commercial and Islamic facilities as well as Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing.Ends

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has laid the foundation stone for the $6bn Ras Laffan Petrochemical Complex – one of the largest in the world – which will raise Qatar’s overall petrochemical production capacity to about 14mn tonnes a year by the end of 2026.
Business
Qatar set for more LNG deals; more value added partners to join North Field expansion project

QatarEnergy expects more LNG deals with European and Asian buyers and more value added partners (VAPs) are expected to join the multi-billion dollar North Field expansion project, noted HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi.The North Field expansion comprises North Field South (NFS) and North Field East (NFE) and will increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity from the current 77 MTPY to 126 MTPY in a few years.Qatar has been securing sales contracts for some of that capacity and is still seeking to place volumes in an effort to ensure the country remains a key supplier for decades to come.In reply to a question by Gulf Times at a media event at Ras Laffan on Monday, al-Kaabi said “yes” when asked whether more value added partners would be joining the North Field expansion since many long-term deals are being signed with buyers, mostly based in Asia.In June last year, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) joined the North Field expansion project as the first value added partner.Last year, al-Kaabi told Gulf Times at a media event held on the sidelines of the event at QatarEnergy, “Our project provides lucrative returns in the industry. So the returns are very high.”He said, “The way we have structured the project is that 75% in each venture will be with us - QatarEnergy - and the remaining 25% tendered out to competition for international oil companies (IOCs).“Of the 75% stake we have, 5% is potentially for value added partners. We will only give up 5% of our stake in the project if someone actually secures a long-term market. And add value to the project, long-term. Today’s agreement shows that value addition through CNPC,” al-Kaabi had said.

HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah with HE Abdulaziz bin Nasser bin Mubarak al-Khalifa and IIA Qatar office-bearers and other dignitaries.
Business
Al-Attiyah calls for professional, independent, and objective auditing

The work of auditors is essential in safeguarding assets, detecting potential fraud, and promoting a culture of accountability and integrity in the society, said HE the former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.In his opening remarks at the 7th National Conference on Internal Auditing in Doha on Sunday, al-Attiyah, who is the chairman of The Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, said, “In a world facing complex challenges including sustainability and environmental protection, data security, increased poverty, to the escalating risks of fraud and corruption, the need for professional, independent, and objective auditing has never been greater.”Al-Attiyah noted that by conducting thorough assessments, internal auditors contribute to the overall efficiency and transparency of an organisation. They provide valuable information and insights for making the right decision.Commending the Institute of Internal Auditing – Qatar Chapter, for organising the “important and timely conference”, al-Attiyah recalled that he had the privilege of heading Qatar's Administrative Control and Transparency Authority for many years.“As a true reflection of the insightful vision of our wise leadership, the authority aims to strengthen the institutional framework for integrity, transparency, and anti-corruption. A mission that goes hand in hand with internal auditing,” he emphasised.He said he was pleased to see that the agenda of the conference covers the entire spectrum of internal auditing, starting from risk management and data security, to fraud detection and audit reporting.Throughout the conference, he said participants will have the privilege to engage with esteemed professionals and expert speakers from around the globe in the field of auditing.The conference also aligns with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and reflects commitment to fostering a culture of transparency, integrity, and accountability, al-Attiyah noted.“I encourage you to take the insights and knowledge gained here to elevate audit practices in your organisation,” he told the delegates from around the world.Themed ‘Be Brave,’ the conference was held under the patronage of HE Abdulaziz bin Nasser bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, President, Civil Service and Government Development Bureau, who also addressed the opening session.Al Attiyah Architectural Group Holding Company is the event's title sponsor, with other major sponsors including QNB, Qatar Islamic Bank, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Mazars, Protiviti and Moore.Jenitha John, past chairperson of the Global Institute of Internal Auditors; Naji Fayad, board member of the International Internal Audit Standards Board (IIASB); and Adulqader Obaid Ali, chairman of the Board, UAE Internal Auditors Association, were some of the prominent speakers, in addition to some 20 top experts from the internal audit domains.Adel al-Hashimi, president, IIA Qatar chapter; Chris Adonis, conference chair; and Sundaresan Rajeswar, board member, IIA Qatar were among the other prominent speakers.

In its latest country report, FocusEconomics estimated Qatar’s GDP at $242bn in 2025, $266bn (2026) and $289bn (2027) and $307bn (2028).
Business
Qatar's GDP set to exceed $300bn by 2028: FocusEconomics

Qatar's gross domestic product is set to exceed $300bn by 2028, researcher FocusEconomics said as it estimates the country’s GDP this year at $232bn.In its latest country report, FocusEconomics estimated Qatar’s GDP at $242bn in 2025, $266bn (2026) and $289bn (2027) and $307bn (2028).The researcher estimates GDP per capita at $79,955 this year, $83,140 (2025), $90,806 (2026), $98,148 (2027) and $103,634 (2028).The country’s GDP growth is seen rising in 2024 from last year but remaining below the Mena average, it said.The country’s public debt is estimated to fall consistently from this year to 2028, the researcher said.FocusEconomics estimates public debt (as a percentage of GDP) at 39.7 this year, 37.1 (2025), 36.3 (2026), 33.7 (2027) and 32.7 (2028).Qatar’s fiscal balance (as a percentage of GDP) has been estimated at 4.8 this year, 4.2 (2025), 5.4 (2026), 5.9 (2027) and 6.5 (2028).The country’s current account balance (in dollar terms) has been estimated at $35.6bn this year, $35.9bn (2025), $37.7bn (2026), $43.9bn (2027) and $41bn (2028).Current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) has been estimated at 15.3 this year, 14.8 (2025), 14.2 (2026), 15.2 (2027) and 13.4 (2028).Unemployment (as a percentage of active population will remain at a meagre 0.2 this year and in 2025 and 0.1 until 2028.Economic activity will be aided by increased capital outlays in the energy sector — in both renewables and fossil fuels — a growing tourism sector and improving relations with neighbouring countries. Heightened geopolitical tension in the region poses a downside risk, the report said.FocusEconomics panellists see GDP expanding 2.3% in 2024, which is unchanged from one month ago, and expanding 3.5% in 2025.Inflation rose to 1.6% in December from 1.3% in November. In 2024, inflation is seen declining on average from 2023 on a higher base of comparison and the lagged impact of past interest-rate hikes, FocusEconomics noted.That said, the riyal’s peg to the dollar will add upward pressure because the latter is set to depreciate ahead.FocusEconomics panelists see consumer prices rising 2.2% on average in 2024, which is unchanged from one month ago, and rising 2.1% on average in 2025.The Qatar Central Bank has kept interest rates unchanged since hiking the overnight lending rate from 6.00% to 6.25% in late July, following the US Federal Reserve’s same-sized hike.Interest rates are expected to decline in 2024 in line with monetary easing by the Fed. FocusEconomics panellists see the overnight lending rate ending 2024 at 5.25% and ending 2025 at 4.17%.The Qatari riyal is pegged to the dollar at QR3.64. The US dollar index traded at 104 on February 2, appreciating 1.7% month on month.The peg is likely to remain in place over our forecast horizon to 2028, given the economic stability it provides and the fact that Qatar has ample international reserves to defend it, FocusEconomics noted.The researcher noted Moody’s recently upgraded Qatar’s credit rating one level to its third-highest investment grade — on a par with France and the UAE. In making its decision, Moody’s noted the country’s solid fiscal metrics and rising LNG production.The economy notched a modest expansion in the first six months of 2023, FocusEconomics said. Available data suggests a similar level of performance in the third quarter; on the one hand, weaker readings for growth in energy output and construction permits will likely be offset by stronger PMI readings and visitor arrivals shooting above pre-pandemic levels.“Turning to Q4, 2023, available data is downbeat; energy output sank at the sharpest rate since February 2022 in October and continued to fall in November, while PMI data suggests that the non-oil sector stagnated over the quarter as a whole,” the researcher said.

A woman carrying luggage is silhouetted as she walks past aircraft operated by China Southern Airlines sitting on the tarmac at Terminal 2 of the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China (file). The Asia-Pacific region's significance in the future growth of the aviation industry is driven by its economic dynamism, large population, expanding middle class, infrastructure development, and its role as a key hub for international air travel.
Business
Asia-Pacific aviation industry looks for support on the ground and in the air

Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest growing regions in global aviation, a trend which is expected to continue over the next 20 years..text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[140402]**The region plays a crucial role in the future growth of the aviation industry due to its economic growth and urbanisation, population size, emerging markets, infrastructure development, airline expansion and fleet renewal, tourism growth and strategic location for international connectivity.Some countries in the Asia-Pacific region have implemented liberalised policies and open skies agreements, promoting competition and boosting growth of the aviation sector.Obviously, these measures will lead to increased efficiency, better services, and more choices for passengers.While opportunities exist, challenges remain.Industry experts say a lot of travel in Asia-Pacific is "price sensitive" and with many airlines in the region still struggling financially, they will have little ability to absorb significant costs.Geopolitical issues, such as the war in Ukraine and the Middle East crisis could push fuel prices up. For airlines as a whole, this is a major concern and will lead to more cost, unavoidable ticket price increases, and possibly a subsequent drop in demand, they say.“Even so, we expect that Asia-Pacific will be the fastest growing region over the next 20 years,” points out Philip Goh, IATA’s regional vice-president (Asia-Pacific).“You have to weigh the challenges against the opportunities. I am sure that in the years ahead, China, India, Indonesia, and many others will be among the top aviation markets in terms of growth and absolute numbers.”Such a positive outlook requires support on the ground and in the air. In terms of airports, at first glance, Asia-Pacific seems to be in a good position, he says.New airports are due to open in India and there are several other projects ongoing, from Sydney to Vietnam to T5 in Singapore. Incheon, Seoul’s international gateway, also has ambitious plans.But Goh notes that it is important for infrastructure development to be well-timed and well planned.“That is why we need to keep a careful eye on the strength of markets in 2024 as the region competes its recovery,” he says.“We don’t want airports that are not aligned to demand. And most importantly, infrastructure costs need to be managed to avoid an increased burden on users.“That means there must be greater consultation with airlines,” he insists.“Carriers must be involved in the design and planning of facilities but too often there is a lack of transparency. Remember, airlines have to forward plan as well, so they need to be included in any major aviation projects.”Goh advises that new facilities should be as future-proof as possible. Sizeable infrastructure in many key cities will likely be increasingly difficult to build so what is being developed today must have longevity.“That is easier said than done. Notable changes in the existing processes are anticipated, including contactless travel for travellers, streamlined border controls, and driver-less vehicles on the apron. Moreover, bag drops are being transformed and air cargo is going through its own digital transformation.“We have to think through these topics carefully and ensure that infrastructure is fit for purpose, now and for years to come,” Goh suggests. “This can’t just be about building a bigger airport. We must be smarter than that.”The Asia-Pacific region's significance in the future growth of the aviation industry is driven by its economic dynamism, large population, expanding middle class, infrastructure development, and its role as a key hub for international air travel.As the region continues to develop, it is very likely to remain a major driver of global aviation industry expansion.

Under its methodology, Qatar’s trade credit risk is at 3.0, compared with regional average of 6.1, according to Oxford Economics. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Qatar's private sector repayment risk 'very low' by regional standards: Oxford Economics

Qatar’s trade credit risk – a measure of private sector repayment risk – is very low by regional standards, Oxford Economics has said in a report.Under its methodology, Qatar’s trade credit risk is at 3.0, compared with the regional average of 6.1, Oxford Economics said in its country report.The main factors underpinning this rating are macroeconomic stability, the credible and well-established exchange rate regime, robust growth, very high GDP per capita, and a healthy, well-developed banking sector.“Higher oil prices will likely support bank liquidity despite rising exposure to construction and real estate and persistent foreign funding risk,” Oxford Economics noted.The sovereign credit risk score under Oxford Economics’ data-driven methodology is 3.1, well below the Mena average of 4.4. The score reflects Qatar’s sky-high per capita incomes, large government reserves, strong external finances, and political stability.The budget deficit in 2017 was temporary, returning to surplus in 2018. But it began to narrow again in 2019 and, due to the slump in oil and gas prices, moved into deficit of 2.1% of GDP in 2020.The balance returned to surplus in 2021, with surpluses of 10.4% and 6.3% of GDP in 2022 and 2023, respectively, amid supportive oil and gas revenues.“We forecast it will narrow to 4.5% of GDP this year,” Oxford Economics said.The main rating agencies downgraded Qatar to AA-/Aa3 in response to the regional dispute in 2017. Given ties are restoring and public finances are improving, the ratings are back on an upward trajectory.Moody's recently raised the rating to ‘Aa2’, while S&P upgraded its rating to ‘AA’. An upgrade from Fitch is likely to follow given the positive outlook on its rating, Oxford Economics noted.Under its methodology, exchange rate risk is now 1.7, lower than six months ago and well below the Mena average of 4.2.The stronger US dollar has supported the dollar-pegged Qatari riyal at QR3.64. Oxford Economics thinks there is only a minor chance of de-pegging in the near to medium term.The low risk score reflects the authorities’ long-standing commitment to the US dollar peg, as well as large foreign exchange reserves.In 2020, risk rose when the current account shifted into deficit, but the score improved as the current account shifted back to surplus in 2021, as exports recovered and oil and gas prices rebounded from 2020 lows.“The surplus halved in 2023 but remained wide at 13.5% of GDP. We project a narrower surplus of 11.2% of GDP this year,” Oxford Economics added.

In an era defined by rapid technological evolution, airlines and airports seem to be positioning themselves for a digital breakthrough. Picture courtesy: SITA
Business
Airlines, airports set for digital breakthrough; uptick in IT, technology spending seen

In an era defined by rapid technological evolution, airlines and airports seem to be positioning themselves for a digital breakthrough..text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[137425]**Global Information technology provider for the air transport industry SITA says that both airports and airlines saw IT spend increase year-on-year into 2023, reaching an estimated $10.8bn and $34.5bn respectively, with over two-thirds of airport and airline CIOs expecting continued growth into 2024.Airports also boosted IT spend as a percentage of revenue in 2022 and 2023 even as business benefitted from an uptick in travel demand, signalling just how crucial a role technology will play in the next-generation travel experience.According to SITA, 99% of airlines saw an uptick in IT and technology spending in 2023.Key investment priorities included Business Intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI). With generative AI’s booming popularity and utilisation in 2023, a shift is evident – airlines are investing in transformative technologies to navigate operational challenges, optimise the passenger experience, and advance environmental sustainability, making strides towards greener operations.In particular, they are exploring alternative revenue channels (with the use of BI in passenger processing for retail doubling year on year).Passenger-centric technology adoption is another key investment area with touchless identity verification, self-service solutions, and real-time monitoring gaining traction.Biometrics are becoming commonplace to help curb congestion, with 70% of airlines expecting to have biometric ID management in place by 2026, and 90% of airports investing in major programs or R&D in this area.As sustainability takes centre stage, airlines prioritise the renewal of their fleets efficiencies around aircraft turnaround and ground operations, and a commitment to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).The report reveals a joined industry push towards an environmentally responsible future, with SAF adoption projected to reach 83% by 2026. By 2026, over 90% of airlines plan to have IT in place to boost the efficiency of flight operations and aircraft turnaround.Strategic investments, innovation partnerships, and sustainability initiatives underscore a collective commitment to shaping a resilient, passenger-centric, and environmentally conscious future.Priority areas: Cybersecurity and cloud services will remain key areas of investment for airlines over the coming years, with 97% and 95% respectively having major programmes/R&D in place, an increase of approximately 5% on last year in each case.“Three areas stand out,” SITA says and adds these are aircraft maintenance (increased from 80% to 89%), business intelligence solutions (79% to 90%), and digital tags , with digital tags being a widely discussed topic in the aviation sector in recent months.As seen among airports, ‘greening by IT is an area where there is significant R&D/pilot investment planned, likely in response to upcoming regulations regarding emissions and industry milestones for carbon reduction.Passenger identity: When it comes to passenger digital identity verification, there is clear appetite among airlines for technologies that will save time, minimise disruption, and streamline the passenger journey through the airport.According to SITA, some 44% have already implemented touchless identity verification technologies and 35% have implemented biometrics – with a further 24% and 35% respectively planning to introduce these by 2026.While only 17% of airlines have currently adopted a single token for passenger identification across all touchpoints, over half plan to have this in place by 2026, ushering in a more seamless digitally enabled experience.Web check-in has become almost universal, increasing to 97% implementation. Staff using mobile devices to aid check-in jumped to 72% in 2023 and automatic check-in has seen a 18% increase year on year to 58% adoption.When it comes to bag tagging, this is still mostly done at the airport, but printing at home is the main area of growth, with 24% having implemented this now (up from 16% last year) and a further 29% planning to do so in the next three years.

Florence Tinguely Mattli, Switzerland ambassador: Picture: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Switzerland explores co-operation with Qatar on infrastructure development, fintech and new technologies: Envoy

Switzerland looks to enhance its already robust relationship with Qatar, exploring prospects for co-operation in infrastructure development, fintech and new technologies, says the country’s ambassador Florence Tinguely Mattli.She said the second session of the Joint Commission on Financial and Economic Areas will be held in Doha on February 8, during the visit of a high-level Swiss delegation, led by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.Parmelin, head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), will be accompanied by around 30 representatives from various economic sectors in Switzerland, the ambassador said.She said the Joint Commission on Financial and Economic Areas was established in 2022 to promote and strengthen bilateral relationship between the two countries in the areas of finance and economy for mutual benefit. The first session of the Joint Commission was held in Switzerland.The ambassador said the delegation would comprise Swiss experts from its renowned watch industry, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, banking and reinsurance.“We already have a strong base and the potential to grow our bilateral relationship. Qatar is undergoing significant economic and social reforms under its National Vision 2030, which offers interesting opportunities for Swiss businesses. Qatar has committed to diversifying its economy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.“Major infrastructure investment projects are currently being planned or implemented, and Swiss technology and expertise are in demand,” ambassador Florence said in an interview with Gulf Times.Switzerland maintains strong economic relations with Qatar, based on a solid foundation of bilateral agreements, in particular on free trade, investment protection and double taxation.Trade with Qatar was worth CHF2.3bn in 2022.Switzerland's main exports to Qatar are pharmaceuticals, gold and precision instruments. There are more than 30 Swiss companies in Qatar. They create a significant number of local jobs.The ambassador noted that free trade, investment protection and double taxation with Qatar is based on the Free Trade Agreement Switzerland signed with the GCC countries in 2014.In Doha, Federal Councillor Parmelin will meet HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani; HE the Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari; and HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiyah among other dignitaries.They will discuss how Swiss companies can potentially contribute to the implementation of the Qatar National Vision 2030.Together with HE al-Kuwari, Parmelin will open the financial and economic dialogue between the State Secretariat for International Finance, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Qatari Ministry of Finance.At the invitation of Qatar’s Minister of Municipality, Parmelin and his delegation will attend the Expo 2023 Doha.He will visit the Swiss pavilion and take part in an event on innovation in the agri-food sector with HE al-Attiyah.Parmelin will also visit the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, where many renowned Swiss brands are on display, the ambassador said.The Federal Councillor’s Qatar tour may also include a visit to the Education City, which is “quite impressive”.Switzerland remains a major tourist attraction for Qataris and residents.“For Qataris, procedures for obtaining a Swiss visa have been simplified. Also, they are now given long-term multiple entry visas. For eligible residents, we try to provide visas within two weeks of applying. But Swiss visa applicants should take note of the fact that the period from March to August is high season,” ambassador Florence said.In 2023, the Switzerland Embassy in Doha issued nearly 2,000 regular visas. This means, the actual number of visitors from Qatar will be much higher, given the fact that certain visitors either do not require visa or will already be holding one.Currently, she said about 240 Swiss nationals reside in Qatar. They include pilots (with Qatar Airways) and professionals working in the energy industry, banking, finance and insurance sectors among others.

Gulf Times
Business
Qatar banks' total assets rise 3.4% to reach QR1.969tn in 2023: QNBFS

Total assets of banks in Qatar increased by 3.4% to reach QR1.969tn in 2023, QNB Financial Services (QNBFS) said in its latest update.Assets grew by an average 6.8% over the past five years (2019-2023), QNBFS noted.Loans increased by 2.5% in 2023 to reach QR1,287.9bn, compared to a growth of 3.3% in 2022. Loans grew by an average 6.5% over the past five years (2019-2023)Deposits declined by 1.3% in 2023 to reach QR986.0bn, compared to a growth of 2.6% in 2022. Deposits grew by an average 4.1% over the past five years (2019-2023)Qatar banking sector total loan book went up 1.1% MoM while deposits moved up 0.5% MoM in December 2023.The public and private sectors pushed the overall credit higher. As deposits edged up in December, the Loans to Deposits ratio (LDR) went up to 130.6% compared to 129.7% in November 2023.The overall loan book made gains of 1.1% in December 2023. Total public sector loans increased 2.6% MoM (-1.6% in 2023). The government segment (represents 29% of public sector loans) was the main growth driver for the public sector with a surge by 7.9% MoM (-8.5% in 2023), while the government institutions’ segment (represents 65% of public sector loans) moved up 0.6% MoM (-0.2% in 2023).However, the semi-government institutions’ segment declined very marginally MoM (+23.9% in 2023).Total private sector loans moved up 0.7% MoM (+4.9% in 2023) in December 2023. The services segment was the main driver for the private sector loan rise.Services (contributes 32% to private sector loans) went up 2.0% MoM (+12.3% in 2023), while general trade (contributes 21% to private sector loans) moved up 0.9% MoM (+8.6% in 2023), and consumption and others (contributes 21% to private sector loans) gained 0.7% MoM (+8.4% in 2023).However, the real estate segment (contributes 20% to private sector loans) declined 0.9% MoM (-7.3% in 2023) in December last year. Outside Qatar loans went down by 1.2% MoM (-3.9% in 2023) during December 2023.Public sector deposits increased by 4% MoM (-1.6% in 2023) in December 2023.Looking at segment details, the government institutions’ segment (represents 56% of public sector deposits) rose by 5.5% MoM (-1.1% in 2023), while the government segment (represents 28% of public sector deposits) increased by 2.8% MoM (-7.9% in 2023), and the semi-government institutions’ segment edged up 0.7% MoM (+9.8% in 2023) in December 2023.Private sector deposits declined by 1.1% MoM (+1.3% in 2023) in December 2023. On the private sector front, the companies and institutions’ segment dropped by 3.2% MoM (-5% in 2023). However, the consumer segment edged up by 0.8% MoM (+7.7% in 2023) during December 2023.Non-resident deposits declined by 1.9% MoM (-7% in 2023) in December 2023.Qatar's banking sector loan provisions to gross loans was at 4% in December 2023, compared to 3.9% in November 2023. Liquid assets to total assets was at 31.6% in December 2023, compared to 31.4% in November 2023.An analyst told Gulf Times, “With the December 2023 data out, we can have a look at the performance for 2023, with overall assets showing an increase by 3.4% in 2023 as domestic assets rose due to credit facilities and interbank. The overall growth in the banks’ loan book in 2023 was driven by the private sector, which gained by 4.9% in 2023, driven by a resurgent tourism sector that led to a rise in credit facilities by 12.3% to the services sector in 2023.“General trade and private consumption was also strong in 2023, going up by 8.6% and 8.4% respectively. Overall banking sector deposits witnessed a decline by 1.3% in 2023 as non-resident deposits and the public sector deposits drop caused the overall drag”.