An Emirates Airlines' airplane flies past a minaret 29 December 2006 in the emirate of Dubai. The company vice chairman said he believes that the airline will have too little rather than too much capacity even after its 121 billion Dirhams spent -although the airbus A380 will arrive at Emirates hangars two years late, the airline is optimistic about its expansion plans for 2007. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB
Profits plunge at the airline during one of the most challenging periods in civil aviation history.

Fuel costs hit Emirates Airline



Record fuel prices dragged down first-half year gains for Emirates Airline, which reported a small profit of Dh284 million (US$77m) during one of the most challenging periods in aviation history. The Dubai airline saw profits fall by 88 per cent compared with the same April-to-October period last year, when it had a bumper first half with Dh2.36 billion in income. "Emirates has worked hard to manage the impact of high fuel prices on our unit costs, while continuing to grow our business and provide our customers with a quality product," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, the chairman and chief executive of the airline. The sharp downturn in profits came despite the airline reporting a 31 per cent jump in revenues to Dh22.1bn, after it opened new routes and increased capacity by 13 per cent. The rapid rise of crude oil this year pushed the company's unit costs up by 40 per cent, the airline said, adding that its cash position deteriorated significantly in the past six months from Dh12.6bn to Dh8.4bn. $1bn of that was due to paying the Dubai Government a dividend from the previous financial year, as well as pre-delivery payments to Boeing and Airbus. It also experienced costs arising from upgrading of its fleet. More than 30 airlines have filed for bankruptcy this year as record fuel prices, falling demand and deteriorating credit markets has created one of the most difficult environments for airlines this century. In the past week, a spate of bad news has hit the industry. ALMA, a budget carrier operating from Guadalajara, Mexico, became the third Mexican carrier in the past few weeks to cease operations, while Singapore Airlines said its July-September profit dropped 36 per cent, to $219 million, as the high price of fuel hit. Similarly, British Airways reported a consolidated net loss of £49m (Dh282.6m) in the six months ending Sept 30 due to fuel and the economic downturn. Despite the gloom and doom, however, several recent announcements suggest until now, Gulf airlines have shown resilience in finding new debt amid a deteriorating banking climate. Yesterday, Qatar Airways secured a US$500 million loan from a consortium of international banks to finanace the arrival of new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp Europe participated in the 12-year lease deal, which was overseen by Standard Chartered. Akbar al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, said the deal demonstrated the confidence international lenders had in the carrier "as an airline with a strong vision to grow its international network". The Qatar deal follows $250m in loans to Etihad Airways, sealed in September, to finance two long-haul A340-600 aircraft from Airbus. The loans were arranged through a consortium of banks that included Al Hilal Bank. Etihad and Al Hilal are expected to announce a secondary financing pact later this month. The financing needs for Gulf airlines are immense, after signing deals worth tens of billions of dollars for wide-bodied aircraft during the economic boom of the past few years. Qatar Airways has more than 150 aircraft on order, including another 32 Boeing 777 deliveries worth $8bn coming in the next few years. Emirates Airline has more than 200 aircraft on order worth an estimated $60bn, and recently said it would not need to go back to the markets for debt for the next eight months. Etihad ordered up to 205 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus this summer, worth up to $43bn if all options are exercised. Air Arabia, the Sharjah-based budget carrier, will see its financing needs rise in 2010, when it receive the first of 49 Airbus A320 aircraft, worth $3.5bn. With a global recession looming, the recent loan deals are no guarantee of success, and there are concerns that carriers may find both passengers and credit harder to come by. Kareem Murad, a vice president of research at Shuaa Capital, said only carriers with low debt and high cash positions would receive favourable loan terms. "Its definitely not going to be as easy as it used to be," he said. igale@thenational.ae

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Five healthy carbs and how to eat them

Brown rice: consume an amount that fits in the palm of your hand

Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli: consume raw or at low temperatures, and don’t reheat  

Oatmeal: look out for pure whole oat grains or kernels, which are locally grown and packaged; avoid those that have travelled from afar

Fruit: a medium bowl a day and no more, and never fruit juices

Lentils and lentil pasta: soak these well and cook them at a low temperature; refrain from eating highly processed pasta variants

Courtesy Roma Megchiani, functional nutritionist at Dubai’s 77 Veggie Boutique

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Director: Omar Hilal
Stars: Muhammad Farrag, Bayoumi Fouad, Nelly Karim
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Clinicy
Started: 2017
Founders: Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, Abdullah bin Sulaiman Alobaid and Saud bin Sulaiman Alobaid
Based: Riyadh
Number of staff: 25
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding raised: More than $10 million
Investors: Middle East Venture Partners, Gate Capital, Kafou Group and Fadeed Investment

Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon

Rating: 5/5

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Russia's Muslim Heartlands

Dominic Rubin, Oxford


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