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Thursday, February 02, 2023 | 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 traveller receives a nasal swab from a nurse at a Covid-19 test site inside Terminal B at Los Angeles International Airport. A travel rebound this summer in many countries may hit the air pocket as PCR tests, the so-called gold standard, will make journey too expensive for many individuals and families.
Business
Excessive PCR test costs may hamper air travel rebound in summer

Beyond the Tarmac A travel rebound this summer in many countries may hit the air pocket as PCR tests, the so-called gold standard, will make journey too expensive for many individuals and families. European airlines are counting on a travel rebound this summer after months of Covid-19 restrictions left them struggling with minimal revenues and huge new debts taken on to survive the pandemic. But any demand for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that can cost more than the short flights themselves threatens the recovery. For example, PCR tests can cost around 100 pounds ($140) in Britain. The cost of PCR testing for international travel in the UK is double that of testing in other European countries, according to analysis by Abta, a leading association of travel agents and tour operators, and the Airport Operators Association. An IATA sampling of costs for PCR tests (the test most frequently required by governments) in some 16 countries showed wide variations by markets and within markets. Of the markets surveyed, only France complied with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation for the state to bear the cost of testing for travellers. Of the 15 markets where there is a cost for PCR testing to the individual, IATA found the average minimum cost for testing was $90 and the average maximum cost for testing was $208. Even taking the average of the low-end costs, adding PCR testing to average airfares would dramatically increase the cost of flying for individuals. Pre-crisis, the average one-way airline ticket, including taxes and charges, cost $200 (2019 data). A $90 PCR test raises the cost by 45% to $290. Add another test on arrival and the one-way cost would leap by 90% to $380. Assuming that two tests are needed in each direction, the average cost for an individual return-trip could balloon from $400 to $760. The impact of the costs of Covid-19 testing on family travel would be even more severe. Based on average ticket prices ($200) and average low-end PCR testing ($90) twice each way, a journey for four that would have cost $1,600 pre-Covid, could nearly double to $3,040—with $1,440 being testing costs. “As travel restrictions are lifted in domestic markets, we are seeing strong demand. The same can be expected in international markets. But that could be perilously compromised by testing costs – particularly PCR testing. Raising the cost of any product will significantly stifle demand. “The impact will be greatest for short-haul trips (up to 1,100km), with average fares of $105, the tests will cost more than the flight. That’s not what you want to propose to travellers as we emerge from this crisis. Testing costs must be better managed. That’s critical if governments want to save tourism and transport jobs; avoid limiting travel freedoms to the wealthy,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. "We can’t have a situation where only the rich are able to travel. That would be a shame and a disgrace and everyone in the industry should be pushing back," Walsh said. The restart of international travel needs to be affordable and accessible for everyone – so that people can take their much-needed overseas holidays and visit the family and friends abroad whom they’ve not been able to see for such a long time, noted Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta. In Europe, airlines have called for the competition watchdog to investigate the price of Covid tests for travel, with the travel industry warning that the PCR tests required by government will in effect block most international holidays this year. Global airline body IATA called on the UK Competition and Markets Authority to launch an inquiry, as separate research showed that travellers had to pay twice as much for PCR tests in the UK as they do in much of Europe. The report from the government’s ‘global travel taskforce’ published recently said travel could be opened up from May 17 but that individuals would require three PCR tests to holiday even in the safest, “green-light” states – leading to immediate warnings that the cost would prohibit most people from going abroad. Experts suggest the governments need to remove VAT on testing, wherever this has been levied, and try to give a little certainty and continuity. Clearly, the excessive cost of PCR testing is a disincentive to the much-needed air travel recovery. To facilitate an efficient restart of international travel, Covid-19 testing must be affordable as well as timely, widely available and effective. Therefore, governments around the world have to ensure that high costs for Covid-19 testing don’t put travel out of reach for individuals and families.

The $28.75bn NFE Project features a state-of-art CCS facility to capture CO2 emissions from the project, Apicorp said in its 'Mena Energy Investment Outlook 2021-2025.'
Business
Qatar’s NFE project to attract private sector investments on ‘favourable economics, green credentials’: Apicorp

Qatar’s flagship North Field East (NFE) Project is expected to attract private sector investment given its “favourable economics and green credentials”, Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp) said on Tuesday. The $28.75bn NFE Project features a state-of-art CCS facility to capture CO2 emissions from the project, Apicorp said in its 'Mena Energy Investment Outlook 2021-2025.' The CCS facility will be the largest in the global LNG industry, and itself will run on renewable power through a 800MW solar plant, further reducing the project’s carbon footprint. Qatar Petroleum is also building a new super fleet of low-emissions LNG carriers, the report noted. Qatar is also pledging green credentials in its LNG expansion by including state-of-the-art carbon/CO2 and GHG capture and separate production trains, which also boost the megaprojects economics as it markets industrial quantities of helium, sulphur and ammonia, Apicorp noted. “Qatar’s NFE project remains the region’s single biggest ‘confirmed’ energy megaproject spend for 2021-25, and makes it the only country in the region whose 2021-25 committed spend tops its 2020 and 2019 outlooks”, Apicorp said. Apicorp also noted the overall planned and committed energy investments in the Mena region will exceed $805bn over the next five years (2021-2025) – a $13bn increase from the $792bn estimate in last year’s five-year outlook. The report attributes this modest rise to four factors: A strong confidence in the rebound of global GDP, rising energy demand, the comeback of Libyan projects – which alone accounts for around $10bn in planned projects – and the accelerated pace of renewables in the region. Mena is estimated to add 3GW of installed solar power capacity in 2021 alone – double that of 2020 – and 20GW over the next five years. The region’s economic forecasts suggest that commodity prices and exports will drive the rebound expected for most Mena countries in 2021. However, economies remain under fiscal strains due to unprecedented high debt levels and decline in oil prices, tourism revenues, and personal remittances. Committed gas investments in Mena for the period 2021-2025 are expected to total $75bn to $9.5bn less than the previous outlook, Apicorp noted. The decline is attributed to the completion of several megaprojects in 2020 and countries being more cautious to new project commitments in an era of gas overcapacity. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq are the top three Mena countries in terms of committed gas investments. This is owed to Qatar’s NFE Project, Saudi Arabia’s gas-to-power drive and the massive Jafurah unconventional gas development, which is poised to make the kingdom a global blue hydrogen exporter – and Iraq’s gas-to-power projects and determination to cut flaring and greenhouse gas emissions. Planned investments meanwhile held relatively steady at $133bn for 2021-2025, signalling the region’s appetite for resuming its natural gas capacity build-up – particularly the ambitious unconventional gas developments in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, and Algeria – once macro conditions improve. Dr Ahmed Ali Attiga, chief executive officer, Apicorp said, “Apicorp’s Mena Energy Investment Outlook 2021-2025 indicates that energy industries are entering a period of relative stability in terms of investments as most Mena countries return to GDP growth in 2021 and the energy transition showing no signs of slowing down. “We anticipate a slow but steady recovery of the energy sector from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, supported by continued investment from the public sector and an upswing in demand.”    

Some 83GW of renewable and clean energy capacity, mainly solar and wind power is planned across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region within the next 20 years, an Informa Markets research showed. Renewable and clean energy will account for 34% of total power sector investments across the Mena region in the next five years.
Business
83GW of renewable, clean energy capacity in Mena within 20 years: Research

Some 83GW of renewable and clean energy capacity, mainly solar and wind power is planned across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region within the next 20 years, an Informa Markets research showed. Renewable and clean energy will account for 34% of total power sector investments across the Mena region in the next five years. The figures were highlighted as the Middle East is set to become a market leader in renewable and clean energy due to well-designed auctions, favourable financing conditions, and declining technology costs, all contributing to bringing renewables into the mainstream. Renewable & Clean Energy will debut as the theme for Middle East Energy’s inaugural virtual focus week on May 17. Claudia Konieczna, Exhibition director, Middle East Energy, said, “We expect renewable and clean energy to account for 34% of total power sector investments across the Mena region in the next five years. "Naturally, with the demand for new power capacity increasing in the region, one of the hot topics of discussion is renewable and clean energy and how countries are advancing initiatives in this sector. Creating dialogue on this subject is paramount to supporting Middle East Energy’s attendees in all future decision-making processes." The importance of the renewables and clean sector, and the anticipated growth, was recently underscored in the report ‘Covid-19 impact on renewable energy market – global forecast to 2021’. The findings revealed revenue generated from renewable and clean energy is expected to increase from AED675bn in 2020 to AED829bn in 2021, representing a 22% increase. “In line with these findings, we have developed a conference programme which provides the opportunity to discuss, debate and learn more about the impact renewable and clean energy will have on the sector as part of our virtual three-day conference,” added Konieczna. The virtual Renewable & Clean Energy sector week, which takes place from May 17 to 19, will feature a range of tech talks, industry briefings, case studies, product demonstrations and panel discussions throughout the three-day conference. Ian Williamson, chief project delivery (Red Sea Utilities) and speaker on third day leaders panel, Integrating Renewables into Electricity Networks, said, “We will be able to evidence that tourist destinations, even at this scale, can be 100% powered by renewable energy. Eventually Nations will have their energy grids powered from renewables and nuclear, but in the meantime, we can achieve 100% renewable energy for The Red Sea project while staying ‘off grid’.” “We started with the ambition of having 100% renewable energy sources for The Red Sea project, and we are delivering on it,” he added. Topics on day one include 'Realising the potential of green hydrogen – will this be the game-changer for the energy transition'. On day two, leading the agenda will be 'Race to net-zero: How will the corporates transition towards the "New Energy" scenario'. On the final day, ‘Exploring the opportunities around growing wind sector, in potential regions of the UK, Africa, Asia and the Middle East’, will take centre stage.    

Organised retail supply space in Qatar totalled 1.93mn sq m gross leasable area (GLA) as of first quarter, researcher ValuStrat said in a report.
Business
Organised retail supply space in Qatar totals 1.93mn sq m in first quarterq1: ValuStrat

Organised retail supply space in Qatar totalled 1.93mn sq m gross leasable area (GLA) as of first quarter, researcher ValuStrat said in a report. Some 202,000 sq m GLA of organised retail space is in the pipeline for 2021, ValuStrat said in its ‘Qatar Real Estate Market 1st Quarter 2021 Review’. These include Boulevard Mall in Jeryan Jenaihat, 04 Mall in The Pearl and Doha Mall in Al Maamoura. With the continuation of the pandemic and restrictions on social mobility, challenges associated with oversupply continue to exacerbate occupancy and rents in organised and unorganised retail outlets, ValuStrat noted. The median monthly asking rent in shopping centres remains unchanged QoQ, but fell by 4.3% YoY. The median monthly asking rent among street retail inside Doha was QR165 per sq m, declining by 3% QoQ and 8% YoY. The median asking rent among street retail units outside Doha was QR155 per sq m, falling by 6% QoQ and 9% YoY, ValuStrat said. Faster absorption of listings of street retail was seen in areas of Ain Khaled, Abu Hamour and Old Airport compared to Lusail, Fereej Bin Mahmoud and shops along Salwa Road, which experienced an increase in vacant spaces available for rent. According to ValuStrat, new regional and international food and beverage and fashion brands opened stores in the Mall of Qatar including Maia lounge, Mestooran restaurant, Kaldi Cafe and Bianca Nera. Al Meera (58th branch) and Daiso Japan (7th branch) opened their stores in Al Asmakh Mall and Mirqab Mall respectively, both spread over an area of 1,000sq m, ValuStrat noted.    

Qatar and two other GCC neighbours u2013 Saudi Arabia and the UAE u2013 are performing better than the rest of the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America in vaccine response, says Bloomberg Economicsu2019.
Business
Qatar among best emerging market performers in vaccine response: Bloomberg Economics

Qatar and two other GCC neighbours – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are performing better than the rest of the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America in vaccine response, says Bloomberg Economics’. A renewed outbreak of the virus is underway, but not all emerging markets are hit equally hard. Bloomberg Economics’ ranking of 75 economies shows countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and East Asia performing better than the rest of the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. The GCC (Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) and Asia (South Korea, China and Taiwan) are performing best. The rest of the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America are struggling under the strain of the pandemic, Bloomberg Economics noted. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have also climbed towards the top of the list, Bloomberg Economics noted. According to Ziad Daoud, chief emerging markets economist at Bloomberg Economics, the GCC has risen to the top of the rankings in the last 30 days partly because vaccination rates are among the highest in the world. He said, “In addition, activity is close to pre-virus levels despite a recent slowdown coinciding with the fasting month of Ramadan.” The economies of South Korea, China and Taiwan have consistently ranked highly in Bloomberg’s scorecard. Their early virus containment and ample policy space have allowed them to see a robust recovery from the pandemic. Bangladesh has also crept up in the rankings, thanks to a pickup in mobility. Bloomberg Economics’ ranking uses a range of social measures, including Covid-19 case rates and fatalities, vaccination progress, economic activity mobility and policy space to assess, which countries are most effectively containing Covid-19 cases without enormous damage to their lifestyle or economy. That data, Bloomberg Economics said is used to calculate a final score, ranking countries based on virus deaths and vaccine doses, and take a simple average of that and the other two metrics.    

Omar Mahmood, partner at KPMG in Qatar.rnrn
Business
Qatar banks see growth in asset base; costs remain region’s lowest: KPMG

Banks in Qatar have seen a growth in their asset base, driven by the need to continue to support the country's future ambitions, KPMG said in its latest report on ‘GCC listed banks results 2020’. Qatar banks' costs continue to remain the lowest in the region, which reflects the relentless focus on efficiencies to help counter the impact of increased provisioning, it said. Despite the financial uncertainty arising from Covid-19, Qatar's listed banks recorded the lowest profit decline amongst its regional peers, KPMG said. “Increased loan provisioning as a result of liquidity and credit challenges being faced by borrowers reflected the more cautious approach taken by banks. This impact was partially offset by higher interest spreads and lower costs,” KPMG said. Omar Mahmood, head, Financial Services for KPMG in the Middle East and South Asia, and partner at KPMG in Qatar said, “Qatar National Bank continues to maintain the top spot for the largest bank in the GCC in terms of assets and profits; banks in Qatar had the highest sector average for return on equity (13%); and banks in Qatar were the clear leaders amongst their regional peers in terms of their cost-to-income ratios (24%) demonstrating the tight cost control measures across the sector.” Overall, Mahmood noted how banks in the GCC are cautiously optimistic about the future. “Banks have come through the past year as being more resilient, backed by strong government support, which positions them well for future growth, while also being very aware of the challenges that the current global economic conditions continue to pose for the regional banking sector”. He said, “2020 was a pivotal year for banks in the GCC, as their digital transformation plans were accelerated, hybrid working was introduced and customer centricity remained at the forefront”. Mahmood also commented on the numbers explaining how “the region posted a drop in profitability (31%) for the first time in a number of years and this was primarily as a result of a 59% increase in credit provisions. Market sentiment also followed the fundamentals with a 10% drop in listed bank share prices too”. Mahmood further commented that “although we saw a drop in a number of key financial metrics for listed banks in the GCC in 2020, banks also posted robust asset growth of 8.2%; they witnessed an increase in capital adequacy ratios to a sector average of 18.7%; and showed stability in costs with the cost-to-income ratio averaging 41% for the region in 2020.” Looking forward, Mahmood noted see six key themes for the banking sector in the region. “First we expect the challenging credit environment to remain with rising NPLs and loan impairment as a result of the impact of Covid-19 across all sectors of the economy; second, we see banking sector consolidation continuing with further M&A activity expected thus creating larger, healthier and stronger financial institutions; third, we see digital as being here to stay with the emergence of new digital-only players and traditional banks making further digital investments; fourth, we predict agile and flexible working with a blended work from home and office approach becoming the norm; fifth, we see ESG taking centre stage and moving from the periphery to the core of Board agendas; and finally we see regulators embracing tech through a focus on digital currencies, open banking, and licensing new fintech entrants to the market."  

Ministry of Finance
Business
Major projects expenditure totals QR15bn in first quarter: Ministry of Finance

Expenditure on major projects during the first quarter (Q1) of this year totalled about QR15bn, or 20.8% of the 2021 budget, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. In addition, newly awarded projects during the first quarter of 2021 amounted to about QR4.6bn, a report issued by the Ministry said. Total public debt remained constant, maintaining the same level and split as of 2020 year-end at QR381.9bn. There was neither new public debt during the quarter, it said. Total revenue for Q1, 2021 amounted to QR45.2bn driven by the recovery in oil prices. On the other hand, expenditure totalling QR45bn has been recorded. As a result, the budget balance recorded a minor surplus of QR0.2bn. Qatar’s economy, supported by the National Vaccination Programme and the increase in oil demand and prices, is expected to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 with real GDP growth of 2.2%, Ministry of Finance said. The economy contracted in 2020 as the recorded real GDP was -3.7%. The contraction was primarily driven by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and weak oil demand during 2020, the Ministry of Finance said. The Ministry said the report was published to provide detailed fiscal data covering performance during the first quarter of 2021 including revenues, expenditures, debt dynamics and other key fiscal and economic developments. The Ministry said it will be publishing similar budget reports periodically within 30 days of the end of each quarter.    

A pilot moves through LaGuardia Airport in New York City. The pandemic has decimated the global airline industry, landing many carriers in the red, or forcing them to shut down operations altogether. This has resulted in thousands of pilots among other aviation personnel being furloughed around the world.
Business
Pilot shortage to loom if airline industry recovers earlier than expected

Aviation Page - Beyond the Tarmac The pandemic has decimated the global airline industry, landing many carriers in the red, or forcing them to shut down operations altogether. Obviously, this has resulted in thousands of pilots among other aviation personnel being furloughed around the world. But as the industry prepares for long-term air travel recovery from the pandemic, driven by massive vaccine roll out around the globe, many industry experts say a pilot shortage will still loom. While the current industry downturn, induced by Covid-19, has resulted in a temporary oversupply of qualified personnel, the long-term need remains robust, aerospace giant Boeing said in its ‘Pilot and Technician Outlook 2020-2039’. The Boeing outlook shows pilot retirements coinciding with the industry’s recovery timeframe and forecasts the need for 605,000 new commercial pilots globally over the next 20 years. According to Boeing, the Middle East (led by the GCC region) will require in excess of 234,000 of new aviation personnel including pilots, technicians and cabin crew between 2020 and 2039. Two experts at American management consulting firm Oliver Wyman's transportation practice – Geoff Murray and Taylor Cornwall noted, “An important question facing the airline industry is not whether it will face a pilot shortage, but when it will begin.” With the number of flights reduced to a fraction of what they were before the pandemic, it's hard to imagine that there could be a pilot shortage on the horizon, they told CNN Business. As of February, global airlines were only flying at about 47% of pre-Covid capacity, based on Oliver Wyman’s analysis of data from OAG and the International Air Transport Association. But by 2025, after global demand in domestic and international travel expands beyond 2019 levels, they expect a worldwide shortfall of at least 34,000 commercial pilots — almost 10% of the total workforce. “That gap, which will begin to be felt as early as next year, is based on a modest recovery scenario. If we were to see a more rapid recovery, that shortage could reach 50,000.” Therefore, a major question facing the aviation industry is when demand will return. For passenger recovery, estimates range from early 2022 to 2024 and beyond. For pilots, however, demand is driven by aircraft departures and utilisation rather than passengers. The global in-service fleet has already recovered in size to 76% of pre-Covid levels. In China, where the outbreak was earlier and better controlled, the in-service fleet is already at 99%. While utilisation and resulting block hours still lag historic levels globally, Oliver Wyman expects the demand for pilots to precede the recovery of passenger growth by two to three quarters. In recent years, airlines have provided a more direct path to the cockpit for new pilots, expanding cadet training programmes and providing financing. With Covid-19, many of the airline pipeline levers have come under pressure. Faced with mounting costs and a pilot surplus, cadet programmes are being trimmed. Some of the banks that have supported the financing are reconsidering the risk profile of a new pilot cadet. Finally, the attraction of a “stable and lucrative” career path now looks “much less secure”, Oliver Wyman points out. “We were deep into a pilot shortage pre-Covid, meaning that the second a pilot was qualified, they were being hired by an airline,” Kenneth Byrnes, associate dean and chairman of flight at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University told media company Skift. While that’s no longer the case with the current state of the industry, experts and industry trade groups warn the pandemic has only put a pause on a shortage, that it hasn’t gone away with more pilots nearing the age of retirement and because of a continuing undersupply of new pilots. Already during the first half of 2020, 50% of the pilot workforce was positioned to reach the mandatory stopping point — retirement — within 15 years, said Faye Malarkey Black, president and CEO of the Regional Airlines Association (RAA). Within the half of that workforce, 15% must retire in five years, Skift says. Meeting the projected long-term demand will require a collective effort across the global aviation industry, Boeing emphasises. As tens of thousands of pilots, technicians and cabin crew members reach retirement age over the next decade, educational outreach and career pathway programmes will be essential to inspiring and recruiting the next generation. “Some personnel who are currently furloughed because of the market downturn will find employment in the government and business and general aviation sectors that have previously struggled with shortages amid surging commercial demand. Additionally, as commercial traffic demand returns in upcoming years, aspiring aviators will have the opportunity to fill open positions created by a combination of personnel retirements and fleet growth,” Boeing stated. If a swift recovery becomes possible following the Covid-19 pandemic, airlines around the globe will struggle to secure a pipeline of new pilots. And as the industry navigates the market downturn, effective training and an adequate supply of personnel remain critical to maintaining the health, safety and prosperity of the aviation ecosystem.   Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. Twitter handle: @PratapJohn  

GWC Group CEO Ranjeev Menon: it is a 'huge honour' for GWC to play a key role in delivering the biggest sporting event in Qatar and the regionu2019s history
Business
Logistics to play significant role during FIFA World Cup 2022: GWC CEO

Logistics will play a significant role during the FIFA World Cup 2022, said GWC Group CEO Ranjeev Menon and noted it is a “huge honour” for his company to play a key role in delivering the biggest sporting event in Qatar and the region’s history. GWC, a premier, fully integrated logistics provider and a leader in supply chain solutions that caters to all industry verticals, is the first ‘Regional Supporter and Official Logistics Provider’ for the FIFA World Cup 2022. “We will work very closely with FIFA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to implement and execute a broad spectrum of logistics services, both in the lead up to the tournament, during the event and after the final whistle,” Menon said in an interview with Gulf Times. “Very simply, we will be involved in every part of operations, from venue logistics, broadcasting and cold chain logistics, to shipping, customs clearance, transport and warehousing, down to logistics operations of merchandise, souvenirs, and food and beverages. “All details, large and small, will require end-to-end tracking and execution, from point of entry, to point of use and a highly co-ordinated reverse logistics solution. GWC will offer this full spectrum of services thanks to 3,800,000m² of integrated logistics infrastructure, a global reach through our extensive freight forwarding network, more than 1,200 specialist transportation vehicles offering last-mile solutions, best-in-class IT solutions, and a highly competent team of professionals. “By drawing on our robust network of contacts throughout the world to deliver the logistics and supply chain requirements, we have every confidence that we will showcase to the world what Qatar is capable of delivering in the fields of sport, culture, tourism and beyond.” Menon said, “Our highly developed logistics infrastructure and vast knowledge and experience prepared us for this undertaking, and we continue to develop and improve in order to ensure the successful realisation of yet another landmark event in Qatar’s exciting journey.” Asked about the specific preparations GWC made for the world’s greatest sporting event, the Group CEO said, “In many ways, we have been preparing to support an event of this magnitude ever since we were established. Over the years, we have developed practical, hands-on experience through supporting the delivery of a range of high-profile sporting events, including the Asian Games, AFC Asian Cup and two editions of the last two editions of FIFA Club World CupTM. Every event provides us with unique challenges and lessons learned. “When it comes to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we have broken down our services into six key areas: event logistics, customs brokerage, global freight forwarding, venue services, warehousing services, and reverse logistics. Thinking specifically about host country activities, our 19 logistics centres, which are spread strategically across Qatar will provide a complete spectrum of services and exclusive access to all tournament venues, whether they be stadiums or other sites, such as the international broadcast centre or Fan Festivals. “Our end-to-end services, lean operating model and wide network of partnerships mean we are perfectly prepared to deliver whatever FIFA and the host nation requires in order to stage a successful tournament.” Menon noted GWC’s “organisational values are also helping us” to prepare for the World Cup. “We are committed to delivering first-class, innovative and sustainable solutions. In addition, we are always willing to adapt to changing circumstances. Our team are up to the challenge, when solutions are needed, we step up and deliver. One example of this would be during the recent FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020. This tournament was hosted during a global pandemic, something which added an extra layer of challenges to all our operations. We adapted quickly, collaborated closely with our stakeholders and assisted Qatar and FIFA stage a tournament with fans present that was considered a great success by the players, supporters and officials in attendance. We understand that situations especially on a global level are fluid and ever changing. That’s why we pride ourselves on being streamlined, adaptable and continuously prepared to offer fast resolutions whatever the challenge.”    

This file photo taken on February 1, 2006 shows an oil refinery on the outskirts of Doha. Qatar's energy sector began the year on a robust footing, with oil and gas extraction growing year-on-year in January, according to FocusEconomics.
Business
Qatar’s public debt to fall steadily until 2025: FocusEconomics

Qatar’s public debt has been forecast to fall steadily, from 63.3% of the country’s GDP this year to 56.9% in 2025, FocusEconomics said in a report. The country's public debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) will fall continuously over the next five years, the researcher said. It is projected at 60.3% for 2022, 60% (2023), 58.5% (2024) and 56.9% (2025). Qatar’s GDP has been estimated to reach $207bn in 2025 from $168bn this year, the new report has shown. Next year, it will be $177bn, followed by $187bn (2023) and $197bn (2024). GDP per capita, FocusEconomics said, has been estimated to reach $73,126 in 2025 from $59,772 this year. The country’s GDP per capita has been estimated at $62,955 in 2022, $66,216 (2023) and $69,679 (2024). Qatar’s economic growth in terms of nominal GDP will reach 5.2% in 2025 from 14.6% by the year-end. Next year it will be 5.6%, 5.4% (2023) and 5.5% (2024). The country’s fiscal balance as a percentage of GDP is set to rise to 3% in 2025 from an estimated 1.4% this year. Next year it will be 1.8%, 2.2% in 2023 and 2.6% in 2024. Qatar’s merchandise trade balance will scale up further and exceed $45.2bn in 2025, the report said. This year, FocusEconomics has projected the merchandise trade balance at nearly $33.6bn. Next year, it will account for $35.3bn, $38.6bn in (2023) and $41.9bn (2024). The current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) will be 7.5% in 2025 compared with 3.2% in (2022), 4.6% (2023) and 6% in 2024. The country’s inflation, the report noted, will be 1.8% in 2025 and 1% this year. Qatar’s unemployment rate (as a percentage of active population) will remain a meagre in 0.2% in 2025, from 0.3% this year. Terming Qatar’s economic outlook “stable”, FocusEconomics said the economy is set to expand this year on stronger domestic and foreign demand. Investment in the energy sector and easing tensions with Gulf neighbours should also provide support. However, volatile commodity prices, the potential extension of restrictions and possible delays in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout pose downside risks. FocusEconomics panellists see a 2.8% rise in GDP in 2021, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast, before growth of 3.5% in 2022. The energy sector began the year on a robust footing, with oil and gas extraction growing year-on-year in January, FocusEconomics noted. In March, Qatar Petroleum signed a 10-year supply deal with a Chinese firm. This came after the country inked supply deals with Bangladesh and Pakistan, amid plans to expand LNG output by over 40% in the next several years. Consumer prices fell 1.4% in annual terms in February, following January’s 1.3% decline. Prices are seen rising later this year on higher food and energy costs, recovering activity and a supportive base effect. “Our panelists see consumer prices rising 1.0% in 2021, which is up 0.2 percentage points from last month’s forecast. In 2022, our panel sees inflation averaging 2.2%,” FocusEconomics said.

As of Q1, 2021, the supply of office space was 5.5mn sq m Gross Leasable Area (GLA). Moreover, 62% of the existing stock was of u2018Grade-Au2019 category.
Qatar
Qatar’s office space supply amounts to 5.5mn sq m Gross Leasable Area in Q1: ValuStrat

Qatar’s supply of office space amounted to 5.5mn sq m Gross Leasable Area (GLA), researcher ValuStrat said and noted upcoming projects until 2022, currently under development, totalled 1.28mn sq m GLA. As of Q1, 2021, the supply of office space was 5.5mn sq m Gross Leasable Area (GLA). Moreover, 62% of the existing stock was of ‘Grade-A’ category. As many as seven office projects were added in the first quarter in Lusail, Ain Khaled (Salwa Road), Fereej Abdul Aziz, Old Airport, Al Muntazah and Msheireb comprising of 145,000 sq m GLA. Upcoming projects until 2022, currently under development, totalled 1.28mn sq m GLA, 62% of which is located in Lusail (Fox Hills, Energy City, Commercial Boulevard and Marina District) and the remaining mixed amongst Umm Ghuwailina, Al Hitmi and Al Dafna. Median office asking rents fell 6% YoY and 2% QoQ. The median monthly office asking rent in West Bay was QR110 per sq m, with quoted rents ranging from QR70 to 190 per sq m. Offices in Al Sadd experienced the highest quarterly fall in asking rents up to 4%, with rates varying from QR50 to QR110 per sq m. Secondary office locations saw larger declines this quarter in comparison to prime locations. Offices in Al Wakrah and Al Khor ranged from QR40 to QR60 per sq m. The average asking price for offices in Lusail and West Bay was QR17,500 per sq m on sellable area. ValuStrat in its first quarter Qatar real estate review said during the first two months of Q1, 2021, export revenues reduced by 3.8% YoY, and imports contracted by 14% YoY. During Q1, 2021, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 97.1 points (the base year 2018) indicating a marginal decrease of 1% annually and increase of 1.1% QoQ. Housing and utility expenses index decreased 5.5% YoY and 1.6% QoQ. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected the real GDP of Qatar to grow 2.4% during 2021, ValuStrat noted.    

The global aviation industry has set a climate target of cutting emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050. Air transport accounts for about 2% of global man-made CO2 emissions. In 2017, civil aviation, as a whole, emitted around 859mn tonnes of CO2, which is roughly 2% of man-made carbon emissions.
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Curbing carbon footprint through sustainable aviation fuels

The global aviation industry has set a climate target of cutting emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050. Air transport accounts for about 2% of global man-made CO2 emissions. In 2017, civil aviation, as a whole, emitted around 859mn tonnes of CO2, which is roughly 2% of man-made carbon emissions. It is estimated that (under the industry’s trend setting initiative CORSIA or Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation — a global carbon offsetting scheme) aviation will have to offset 2.6bn tonnes of CO2 between 2021 and 2035. Therefore, the aviation industry has pinned its hopes on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), which it believes will help reduce airlines’ global emissions and industrial carbon footprint. It is proven that SAF can cut CO2 lifecycle emissions up to 80% compared with conventional jet fuel. It uses sustainable fuel sources, which do not compete with food or water, or damage biodiversity. Sustainable aviation fuels are currently certified by regulators for up to 50% use in commercial flights. Over 250,000 flights have already taken off with a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, IATA noted. US university researchers are now looking at whether “waste products from craft brewing” can power low emissions flight, IATA said in a recent report. Scientists have just published research on carbon negative aviation fuel, and Shell is investing in LanzaJet to scale up production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). All three announcements came within days of each other, adding to the steady drumbeat of news about SAF. Since the start of the year rarely a week passes without new reports of research into low emission fuels or deals to boost production. It is the most important weapon in the industry’s quest to meet its target. Although hydrogen-powered electric flight and battery-powered flight potentially delivers zero emissions, scaling up these technologies could still take decades, according to aviation expert Andrew Stevens. SAF has been around since 2008. More than 300,000 flights have used it blended with regular aviation — without the need for any modification of engines or aircraft — and production continues to grow. The amount of SAF used by commercial aircraft rose 65% between 2019 and 2020, despite the devastating financial impact of Covid-19 on airlines. In 2021, it is expected to jump another 70%, according to Robert Boyd, IATA assistant director of Aviation Environment and head of SAF. Although the uptake rate looks impressive it is still a drop in the ocean. SAF accounts for less than 0.1% of total jet fuel. “Production has increased steadily in recent years despite it being two to four times more expensive than jet fuel,” says Boyd. “We still have a long way to go but the momentum is moving in the right direction to reach critical production mass, and when that happens it will be a game-changing moment for airlines.” Boyd estimates that on the current trajectory, SAF production could hit 2% of the total fuel demand by 2025. At that level, the price gap between SAF and regular kerosene would be starting to close. “There is no substitute to liquid fuel on long haul flights on the horizon yet so SAF will be critical in the industry reaching its emissions targets,” notes Boyd. Experts affirm post-Covid-19 “green recovery” must embrace Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in line with the aviation industry’s commitment to its emissions reduction goals. Current SAF production is 50mn litres annually, according to an IATA estimate. To reach a tipping point, where the scale of production will see SAF costs drop to levels competitive with jet fuel, the production needs to reach 7bn litres or 2% of 2019 consumption, the global trade body of airlines say. Obviously, the current production rates of Sustainable Aviation Fuels are too low for aviation to reach its goal despite SAF’s proven potential and airline efforts to date. The world must “build back better” from the Covid-19 crisis with attention focused on investment in carbon reduction technologies and in SAF, which according to the International Air Transport Association, will create jobs at this critical time and boost aviation’s progress towards its goal to cut aviation emissions to half 2005 levels by 2050. Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. Twitter handle: @PratapJohn    

Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa region, securing 53rd rank in WEFu2019s Energy Transition Index 2021.
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Qatar tops Mena region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

* Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa region, securing 53rd rank in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021. Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy. However, this also poses challenges that are common to all resource rich countries. As more and more countries embark on their net zero journeys, the demand for medium term demand for fossil fuels is expected to decline, which might create economic growth challenges for resource dependent countries. The dip in oil and gas demand, and resulting price volatilities, during the Covid-19 pandemic are a cogent reminder of the need to diversify the economy to limit exposure to fossil fuels. Creating a robust enabling environment, backed by a stable long-term roadmap, strong political commitment, investments in low carbon energy value chain, and supporting reskilling of labour, will be critical in this process. Moreover, Qatar can leverage the existing resource base and legacy infrastructure to create opportunities in the new energy landscape – for example by investing in capacity to localise processing and manufacturing of higher value add products in the fossil fuel value chain, and by supporting innovation and infrastructure development for green hydrogen. The United Arab Emirates secured itself an impressive global top ten rank in 12 indicators of the report Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021, which was released by the World Economic Forum. In its 10th edition, the report, published in collaboration with Accenture, believes that as countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible. The report draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021, which benchmarks 115 countries on the current performance of their energy systems across the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems. This year’s report uses a revised ETI methodology, which takes into account recent changes in the global energy landscape and the increasing urgency of climate change action. Globally, Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Norway (2) and Denmark (3). Regionally, Qatar ranks first, followed by the UAE and Morocco, while Saudi Arabia remains 8th among its Arab neighbours. Overall, scores in the Middle East and North Africa fell last year but the overall trajectory remains moderately positive. Heavy reliance on oil revenue continues to present challenges to sustainable growth. Diversification of the economy and the energy system can improve prospects. Challenges remain in access and security, with heavy concentration in primary energy sources. Several countries in the region have set out ambitious renewables targets for 2030. For this region, WEF noted the coming decade presents opportunities to invest in an energy transition that can unlock significant cross-system benefits. “As we enter into the decade of action and delivery on climate change, the focus must also encompass speed and resilience of the transition. With the energy transition moving beyond the low hanging fruit, sustained incremental progress will be more challenging due to the evolving landscape of risks to the energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, head (Energy and Materials) at the World Economic Forum. The results for 2021 show that 92 out of 115 countries tracked on the ETI increased their aggregate score over the past 10 years, which affirms the positive direction and steady momentum of the global energy transition. Strong improvements were made on the Environmental Sustainability and Energy Access and Security dimensions. Eight out of the 10 largest economies have pledged net-zero goals by mid-century. The annual global investment in the energy transition surpassed $500bn for the first time in 2020, despite the pandemic. The number of people without access to electricity has declined to less than 800mn, compared to 1.2bn people 10 years ago (2010). Increasing renewable energy capacity has in particular helped energy importing countries achieve simultaneous gains on environmental sustainability and energy security. However, the results also show that only 10% of the countries were able to make steady and consistent gains in their aggregate ETI score over the past decade. “A resilient and just energy transition that delivers sustainable, timely results will require systemwide transformation, including reimagining how we live and work, power our economies and produce and consume materials,” said Muqsit Ashraf, senior managing director who leads Accenture’s energy practice.    

The total housing stock in Qatar stood at 304,715 units with the addition of 1,700 apartments and villas in the first quarter (Q1) of this year, researcher ValuStrat has said in a report.
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Qatar's total housing stock at 304,715 units in first quarter: ValuStrat

* Some 1,700 apartments and villas were added in Q1; Contracts of residential buildings awarded during first quarter estimated to add 450 units by end-2022   The total housing stock in Qatar stood at 304,715 units with the addition of 1,700 apartments and villas in the first quarter (Q1) of this year, researcher ValuStrat has said in a report. Apartment supply consisted of 1,650 units coming from project handovers in Lusail (Fox Hills and Marina District), The Pearl, Al Dafna, Mirqab Al Jadeed and Fereej Abdul Aziz. Contracts of residential buildings awarded during the first quarter in Lusail Waterfront, Marina and Fox Hills, were estimated to add 450 units by the end of 2022. Some 6,300 units are currently in the pipeline for the remaining quarters of 2021, ValuStrat said. The median transacted ticket size for residential houses was QR2.7mn, increased by 3.4% quarterly and 6.8% annually, ValuStrat noted. Transactional volumes for houses declined 3.3% quarterly, but were 52.8% higher when compared to the same period last year. Amongst all areas, Umm Garn had the highest volume of transactions for residential houses and Fereej Al Amir had the highest ticket size. Some 68 transactions were recorded for residential buildings, as Old Airport and Umm Ghuwailina had the highest number of transactions. During the first two months of 2021, the volume and value of annual transactions in The Pearl and West Bay Lagoon fell 6.8% and 11.7% respectively. The median monthly asking rent for residential units dropped 1.8% QoQ and 5.7% YoY, ValuStrat said. Villa rents continue to reduce at a slower pace compared to apartment rents, which have experienced rapid drops over the last year. The median monthly asking rent for apartments was QR6,290, declining 1.9% quarterly and 6% annually. Three-bedroom apartments experienced the highest quarterly falls in rent of up to 5.3%. West Bay, Fereej Bin Mahmoud and Al Mansoura experienced the highest quarterly drops in rents varying 3.5% to 5%. The median monthly asking rent for villas was QR10,460, which fell by 1.2% QoQ and 3.9% YoY. Three-bedroom villas experienced the highest quarterly drop in rents of up to 2.8%. Villas in compounds in Al Aziziya and Ain Khaled experienced the highest QoQ rental falls by an estimated 3.3%. The first quarter 2021 ValuStrat Price Index (VPI)-Residential, displayed overall 6.2% annual and 1.5% quarterly declines in capital values. Villa and freehold apartment prices saw quarterly price drops of 1.3% and 2.4%, respectively. Amongst freehold apartments, The Pearl witnessed the sharpest decline in values. Amongst villas, the highest quarterly depreciation of 5.6% in capital values was experienced in Al Wakrah cluster. Five locations (Umm Salal Ali, Old Airport, The Pearl, West Bay Lagoon and Ain Khaled) saw a marginal QoQ change of less than a percent in capital values. The remaining areas experienced quarterly falls of between 0.5% and 2.5%. Gross yields for residential units averaged at an overall 5.4%, adjusted by 6.5% for apartments and 4.8% for villas, the review said.    

Qatar tops MENA region in WEFu2019s Energy Transition Index 2021rnrn
Business
Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

* Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa region, securing 53rd rank in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021. Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy. However, this also poses challenges that are common to all resource rich countries. As more and more countries embark on their net zero journeys, the demand for medium term demand for fossil fuels is expected to decline, which might create economic growth challenges for resource dependent countries. The dip in oil and gas demand, and resulting price volatilities, during the Covid-19 pandemic are a cogent reminder of the need to diversify the economy to limit exposure to fossil fuels. Creating a robust enabling environment, backed by a stable long- term roadmap, strong political commitment, investments in low carbon energy value chain, and supporting reskilling of labour, will be critical in this process. Moreover, Qatar can leverage the existing resource base and legacy infrastructure to create opportunities in the new energy landscape - for example by investing in capacity to localise processing and manufacturing of higher value add products in the fossil fuel value chain, and by supporting innovation and infrastructure development for green hydrogen. The United Arab Emirates secured itself an impressive global top ten rank in 12 indicators of the report Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021, which was released by the World Economic Forum. In its 10th edition, the report, published in collaboration with Accenture, believes that as countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible. The report draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021, which benchmarks 115 countries on the current performance of their energy systems across the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems. This year’s report uses a revised ETI methodology, which takes into account recent changes in the global energy landscape and the increasing urgency of climate change action. Globally, Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Norway (2) and Denmark (3). Regionally, Qatar ranks first, followed by the UAE and Morocco, while Saudi Arabia remains 8th among its Arab neighbours. Overall, scores in the Middle East and North Africa fell last year but the overall trajectory remains moderately positive. Heavy reliance on oil revenue continues to present challenges to sustainable growth. Diversification of the economy and the energy system can improve prospects. Challenges remain in access and security, with heavy concentration in primary energy sources. Several countries in the region have set out ambitious renewables targets for 2030. For this region, WEF noted the coming decade presents opportunities to invest in an energy transition that can unlock significant cross-system benefits. “As we enter into the decade of action and delivery on climate change, the focus must also encompass speed and resilience of the transition. With the energy transition moving beyond the low hanging fruit, sustained incremental progress will be more challenging due to the evolving landscape of risks to the energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, head (Energy and Materials) at the World Economic Forum. The results for 2021 show that 92 out of 115 countries tracked on the ETI increased their aggregate score over the past 10 years, which affirms the positive direction and steady momentum of the global energy transition. Strong improvements were made on the Environmental Sustainability and Energy Access and Security dimensions. Eight out of the 10 largest economies have pledged net-zero goals by mid-century. The annual global investment in the energy transition surpassed $500bn for the first time in 2020, despite the pandemic. The number of people without access to electricity has declined to less than 800mn, compared to 1.2bn people 10 years ago (2010). Increasing renewable energy capacity has in particular helped energy importing countries achieve simultaneous gains on environmental sustainability and energy security. However, the results also show that only 10% of the countries were able to make steady and consistent gains in their aggregate ETI score over the past decade. “A resilient and just energy transition that delivers sustainable, timely results will require systemwide transformation, including reimagining how we live and work, power our economies and produce and consume materials,” said Muqsit Ashraf, senior managing director who leads Accenture’s energy practice.    

HSBC Qatar CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi.rnrn
Business
North Field Expansion project to drive significant economic growth in Qatar: HSBC country chief

The nearly $30bn North Field Expansion project is expected to drive significant economic growth in the country and would provide number of opportunities for banks, said HSBC Qatar CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi. The opportunities, he said are in the areas of advisory and capital markets, contract financing, corporate and project financing and supply chain for state entities, local corporates and multinationals. “With the $30bn North Field Expansion project, Qatar is on track to return as the world’s largest LNG producer by 2030 and will be able to supply for the increasing global demand of this transition fuel to greener energy sources,” Mostafawi said in an interview with Gulf Times. The HSBC Qatar CEO was bullish about growth opportunities in Qatar. “We are experiencing a sense of optimism for growth in Qatar. All indicators suggest that the economic outlook is positive and boosted by the ongoing investment in the country’s infrastructure and economic diversification driven by an expected boom in the services sector ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the North Field gas expansion project.” Asked about HSBC’s focus areas in Qatar in the light of new trends in banking – digital, blockchain etc, the CEO said, “Investing in the digitalisation of banking services has been a priority for HSBC for many years as the needs and demands of corporate and personal banking customers have changed. The investments we have made over many years meant that our networks and operations were well-positioned to respond to the unprecedented demand for digital services as the global coronavirus pandemic struck in 2020.” He said HSBC could offer customers comprehensive service levels from the comfort and safety of their homes. “We launched new mobile digital security features, including ‘live sign’ on digital forms, and virtual customer meetings in record time. The overwhelming majority of our corporate customers have moved all their transactions to our ‘HSBCnet’ digital platform. Our personal banking customers have access to all their banking needs on our advanced Internet and mobile platforms, as well as at our digital branch in Msheireb. “Blockchain is also likely to be an important feature of future trade transactions that will speed up processes and make it even more secure, once Qatar grants the technology regulatory approval.” On the possible expansion of HSBC’s physical branches/ATMs in the country, Mostafawi said, “The need for more physical branches is decreasing while customer demand for digital is rising. We are investing to meet the digital needs of our customers. Future branches will always focus on ensuring our customers have access to the digital services they tell us they want.” During the interview, Mostafawi touched on HSBC's plans for high networth/private banking customers in the country. He said, “According to the Capgemini World Wealth Report of 2020, the Middle East has the fastest growing wealth of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the world and HSBC has a service proposition designed specifically to respond to that growth. The number of HNWIs in the region rose by 9.3% in 2019 while the value of their wealth jumped 10.2%. That compares with rises of 8.8% and 8.6%, respectively, in the global averages. “HSBC offers world class services for High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals and institutions, interested in diversifying their assets outside the region, and in Qatar we have a representative office that offers private banking customers with access to global solutions with the help of advisers and experts based in our Private Banking headquarters in Geneva, but also in our other HSBC Private Banking booking centres like London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore, where our clients’ accounts are booked.”  

An Airbus SE A319 passenger aircraft, operated by Air France-KLM, at a departure gate at Orly Airport in Paris. France has moved one step closer to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to lower carbon emissions. Recently, French lawmakers voted in favour of a bill to end routes where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours.
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Ban on short-haul flights: Will it help lower carbon emissions?

France has moved one step closer to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to lower carbon emissions. Recently, French lawmakers voted in favour of a bill to end routes where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours. Connecting flights will not be affected, however. The planned measures, which are part of a broader climate bill that aims to cut French carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels, will face a further vote in the Senate before becoming law. The measures could affect travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux. France's Citizens' Convention on Climate, which was created by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 members of the public, had proposed scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed. But this was reduced to two-and-a-half hours after objections from some regions, and the airline industry. The vote came days after the state said it would contribute to a $4.76bn recapitalisation of Air France, more than doubling its stake in the flagcarrier, to shore up its finances after more than a year of Covid-19 travel curbs. Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher dismissed criticism from the aviation industry that a pandemic recovery was not the time to ban some domestic flights, Reuters said and noted there was no contradiction between the bailout and the climate bill. “We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions,” she told Europe 1 radio. “Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside.” Undoubtedly, the global aviation industry is a net emitter and airlines produce huge quantities of carbon dioxide. Aviation was one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions before the coronavirus pandemic brought global travel to a halt. In 2019, the sector produced about 2% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, according to industry group ATAG. Air travel is also said to be the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make. For instance, a passenger taking flight from New York to London and back reportedly emits more emissions than an average person in Paraguay over the course of an entire year. The global trade body of airlines – IATA attests to the fact that commercial aviation is responsible for about 2-3% of global carbon emissions. That being said, the timing of the proposed legislation has set alarm bells ringing with industry captains arguing they been accused of environment pollution, unfairly. IATA recognises the need to address the global challenge of climate change and adopted a set of ambitious targets to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport. These include an average improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5% a year from 2009 to 2020, a cap on net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020 (carbon-neutral growth) and a reduction in net aviation CO2 emissions of 50% by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. The association says it is determined to be part of the solution, but insists that in order to achieve these targets; a strong commitment is required from all stakeholders working together through the four pillars of the aviation industry strategy. These include improved technology, including the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels, more efficient aircraft operations, infrastructure improvements, including modernised air traffic management systems and a single global market-based measure, to fill the remaining emissions gap. The air travel industry still reels from the global pandemic with website Flightradar24 reporting that the number of flights last year were down almost 42% from 2019. Air traffic may not return to pre-crisis levels before 2024, McKinsey analysts forecast. While environmental choice must take precedence, we should not lose sight of the fact that a robust aviation industry is absolutely essential for global economic recovery. Also, some experts say actual emissions’ savings through a ban on short-haul flights will not be significant. The airline industry boosts competition and trade, facilitates business interactions and much-needed foreign investments, and encourages new experiences and the exchange of know-how, worldwide. Its role is critical in the time-sensitive and effective distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, the world’s biggest hope in the fight against the pandemic, to countries and regions around the world. The high value of these shipments and the need for maintaining sensitive carriage conditions mean air cargo has a crucial role to play in their distribution as well. Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. Twitter handle: @PratapJohn    

Airbus has taken the next step in reducing its industrial carbon footprint with the maiden flight of a u2018Belugau2019 super-transporter using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from the aerospace companyu2019s Broughton plant in the UK
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Airbus 'further reduces' Beluga super-transporter carbon footprint

Airbus has taken the next step in reducing its industrial carbon footprint with the maiden flight of a ‘Beluga’ super-transporter using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from the aerospace company’s Broughton plant in the UK. The North Wales Line station, which uses the Beluga fleet to transport aircraft wings to Toulouse, Hamburg and Bremen, becomes the second Airbus European site to use SAF, after Hamburg introduced the fuel to its cargo activities at the end of 2019. “This first flight by a Beluga transporter from Broughton, partially fuelled with SAF, marks an important milestone in Airbus’ ambition to decarbonise its industrial operations,” said Tony Derrien, Sustainable Aviation Fuels Project manager, Airbus. “Combined with our ongoing research into the potential for 100% SAF in commercial flights, reducing fossil-fuels in our own operations underlines Airbus’ commitment to lessening the impact of our manufacturing footprint and contributing towards a more sustainable future for the aviation sector more generally.” Sustainable aviation fuels are currently certified by regulators for up to 50% use in commercial flights; the Beluga fleet operating from Broughton will initially be loaded with a 35% blend of non-fossil derived fuel, set to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 400 tonnes over the next three months. The SAF used by the Beluga fleet is made from used sustainable feedstocks, such as cooking oil, and supplied to Airbus in Broughton and Hamburg by Air bp. Andy Owen, Beluga Line Station manager at Broughton, added: “The progressive deployment of sustainable aviation fuels at Airbus’ sites is an essential part of our decarbonisation roadmap. We are proud that Broughton has become the second Airbus site to introduce SAF in its Beluga-fleet operations.”