China Orders 140 Airbus Planes Worth $22.8 Bn


China made an order on Wednesday of 140 Airbus planes, worth $22.8 billion, in what the company’s chief executive Tom Enders said was “one of the biggest contracts signed in a long time by the European aircraft maker.

The deal was signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Berlin.

Airbus said it had sealed the agreement with China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), covering 100 A320 single-aisle jets and 40 A350 wide-body aircraft.

“This underscores the strong demand by Chinese airlines in all segments, from domestic and low-cost to the regional and international long-haul market,” Airbus said in a statement.

The company said a market analysis forecast a doubling of demand worldwide for planes with more than 100 seats to 40,000 aircraft in the next 20 years, fueled largely by demand from developing markets such as China.

“In the mid-1990s we had a market share (in China) of five to six percent,” Enders told journalists after signing the deal in Berlin.

“Twenty years later we have around 50 percent — we really put our foot on the gas.”

Airbus said its A320 line of planes was the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft with more than 13,000 orders and 7,600 planes delivered.

In January last year, BOC Aviation, owned by Bank of China, announced an order for 30 Airbus A320s worth more than $3 billion to meet growing demand.

At last month’s Paris Air Show, Airbus announced 326 orders worth nearly $40 billion.

However, it was outpaced at the event, one of the biggest annual sales bazaars in the industry, by Boeing thanks to its new 737 MAX 10 airliner, taking in a total of 571 orders for nearly $75 billion.

Xi was in Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of the G20 summit of big industrialized and emerging economies in the northern German port city of Hamburg starting Friday.

Enders was making his first public appearance since Airbus rolled out a new structure, completing a recent merger between its parent company and its dominant planemaking arm, changes which included a shift in the reporting line for its commercial sales team to Enders.

Enders said the shift in reporting lines for the sales team reflected the fact that commercial aircraft head Fabrice Bregier had been given more tasks in his new role as group-wide chief operating officer.

With orders slowing and the focus shifting to the backlog, Enders said the shake-up allows Bregier to concentrate on deliveries.

Enders also said the group was in talks with the Chinese over the A380 superjumbo, which has suffered slow sales.

Boeing: Gulf States Are International Central Point for Air Transportation

Boeing Co's logo is seen above the front doors of its largest jetliner factory in Everett

Cairo – The Gulf area is an important hub for all airliners, said an official at the American multinational corporation for airplane manufacturing Boeing.

Bernard Dunn, President of Boeing Middle East, North America, and Turkey, said that his company is sure to meet the area’s needs of designing, manufacturing, and maintaining in the aviation sector.

Dunn told journalists in Cairo, Egypt, that the Gulf is pivotal in air navigation, however, he hoped that with the new headquarters in the city, the company would be able to expand in the region.

Dunn said that while Egypt focused on local transportation and the internal market, Gulf States have become an international central point for air transportation.

Boeing had been in the Middle East for over 70 years when US President Franklin Roosevelt offered in 1945 Saudi King Abdulaziz Al Saud a Douglas DC3 Dakota plane.

Gulf airlines are accused by US and EU counterparts of receiving governmental support of $40 billion, reducing competition chances. Gulf airlines denied those allegations especially in light of the Open Skies agreement between the European Union and the United States. The agreement allows any airline to fly between any point in EU and US.

World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Friday the United States had failed to remove aid for Boeing, as alleged in a trade complaint filed by the European Union.

WTO found that one US subsidy program, a business tax rate reduction in the state of Washington, where Boeing builds most of its aircraft, had “adverse effects”, involving customers from the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Iceland. The program reduced about $325 million between 2013-2015.

Dunn said the company made offers to Egypt Air which recently announced a global tender for the supply of new aircraft as part of its fleet development plan.

Airbus could move production of new aircraft models out of Britain if the European planemaker’s “non-negotiable” demands over the free movement of people and trade tariffs are not delivered in upcoming Brexit talks, according to the Sunday Times.

Chief operating officer of Airbus Fabrice Bregier said a deal must allow its staff from all over the world to enter Britain easily and ensure certain regulatory standards are maintained.

Otherwise, he said, Britain would risk losing Airbus production in the future.

“For new productions, it’s very easy to have a new plant somewhere in the world. We would have plenty of offers to do that,” Bregier said, according to the newspaper, adding: “We want to stay in the UK, provided the conditions to work in an integrated organization are met.”

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said on Thursday that a “hard Brexit” where trade tariffs between the UK and the European Union were imposed could potentially impact the competitiveness of the firm’s activities in Britain.

Airbus employs over 10,000 people across two plants in Britain, according to the company’s website.

US Boeing Establishes Aircraft Factory in China

A Boeing aircraft is seen during the manufacturing process a factory in Renton, Washington, in May 2015. AFP

Beijing- US aircraft giant Boeing will set up its first overseas factory in eastern China, aiming to deliver 100 Boeing 737 planes a year, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Boeing and Chinese aviation manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC) will start to build a Boeing 737 completion center in eastern China’s Zhoushan city at the end of March, scheduled to make its first delivery in 2018.

This is Boeing’s first overseas facility as part of its 737 production system, and designed to deliver 100 Boeing 737 planes a year.

In the joint-venture completion center, Boeing’s 737 aircraft will be installed with flight entertainment systems and seats.

The plant in Zhoushan, 287 km southeast of Shanghai, also provides services such as coating, repair and maintenance of Boeing aircraft.

The plant, which will install interiors and paint liveries, will create 2,000 jobs, Xinhua added. It will be Boeing’s first 737 completion factory outside the United States.

Boeing and COMAC signed an agreement in October 2016 to set up the Zhoushan plant, which will consist of two parts: the 737 completion center, a joint venture of Boeing and COMAC, and the 737 delivery center owned by Boeing, Xinhua noted.

Notably, Airbus, the French plane manufacturer has already established its assembly line factory in 1994 in Tianjin city located close to Beijing.

U.S. House of Representatives Approves Bill to Prohibit Aircraft Sales to Iran

Washington– The U.S. has intensified its pressure on Iran, as the House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would prohibit the sale of commercial aircraft to the Persian State, in order to stop a deal by Boeing and Airbus that has already been approved by President Barack Obama’s Administration.

U.S. lawmakers passed the legislation by 243 against 174 votes. The new bill would prohibit the Treasury Department from issuing the licenses U.S. banks would need to complete the transactions.

The proposed deal may involve the purchase and leasing of more than 200 aircraft, which could generate thousands of new jobs, according to Democrats who opposed the legislation.

Republican representatives voiced their objection to the sale of aircraft to Iran, accusing the Persian country of sponsoring of terrorism and breaching international resolutions by testing ballistic missiles.

U.S. lawmaker Peter Roskam described the aircraft deal as a “scandal.” He harshly criticized Boeing and Airbus for seeking to do business with Iran.

“We need to make sure that the American financial system is not complicit in this deal,” Roskam said.

“We need to make sure that American taxpayers are not subsidizing this deal,” he added.

Democrats said the legislation to prohibit aircraft sales to Iran was an attempt by the Republicans to undermine last year’s nuclear agreement and embarrass the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency said last week that Iran had stockpiled slightly more than the allowable 130 metric tons of heavy water. Spent fuel can be taken from the heavy water to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon.

Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA, told the agency’s board that it was the second time Iran’s inventory had exceeded 130 metric tons. He confirmed that Iran had pledged to transfer excess heavy water out of the country under the agency’s supervision.

“It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation of the JCPOA, which represents a clear gain for nuclear verification in Iran,” Amano said.

Airbus Officially Launches “Entaliq with Airbus”

A flight test engineer holds an Airbus Group flag after the first flight of the Airbus A320neo in Colomiers near Toulouse

Riyadh – Airbus Middle East announced on Wednesday the official launch of “Entaliq with Airbus”, a collaboration agreement between Airbus Middle East and TAQNIA Aeronautics, a Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company, in June 2016.

“Entaliq with Airbus” is a competitive program that aims to attract the best innovators in Saudi Arabia, whether interested university students or young Saudi entrepreneurs with new business ideas or existing businesses in the aviation, space and technology sectors.

The initiative will start officially across Saudi Arabia this month in cooperation with TAQNIA Aeronautics, owned by the Public Investment Funds, and Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).

The challenge targets all Saudi youth to find the best innovative ideas that can support and advance the national and global aerospace industry and participate in this program.

Over a period of three months, interested Saudis can apply and register online to “Entaliq with Airbus” to create and submit their best ideas.

The initial phase will require users to register for an online training program to help applicants understand the means to present innovative ideas in aviation. The program also includes coaching by aviation and aerospace experts, in addition to workshops all over the Kingdom.

For this, Retired Major General Ali al-Ghamdi, CEO of TAQNIA Aeronautics, said: “Airbus works closely with local governments and communities across the globe to support the growth of new ideas and innovation. As an organization that prides itself on the promotion of technology and knowledge transfer in KSA this partnership is a natural fit for such a beneficial program. We are very excited to see this come to life.”

Vice President Fleet Management and Agreements at Saudia, Abdulrahman bin Ghazi al-Tayeb, said: “We are honored to contribute to the development of Saudi’s aviation sector and partner with ‘Entaliq with Airbus’.”

Tayeb added: “Saudi Arabian Airlines launched a special talent management program in collaboration with SAP to improve the services provided to staff and develop the work of HR departments and achieve the strategic goals of the organization.”

For his part, the Managing Director of Airbus Middle East, Fouad Attar stated that: “Entaliq with Airbus” is the ultimate platform that brings multi stakeholders together to connect and exchange ideas for the development of the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia.”

“The program doesn’t aim to find a single idea and develop it, but to encourage the Saudi talent to think and create innovatively,” said Attar.

The second stage includes a challenge to advance the national aviation sector by presenting innovative changes to existing processes, products and functions that will eventually award successful applicants with a brighter future.

Shortlisted applicants will then be included in an online specialized training program as well as practical training in aviation, innovation, and business planning. Industry experts will also offer the participants guidance and mentoring.

The third phase of “Entaliq with Airbus” is the showcasing phase and presentation of the best ten innovations. The ideas will be presented to a panel of industry experts consisting of members of Airbus, TAQNIA Aeronautics, Saudia and other aviation experts.

“Entaliq with Airbus” platform, in addition to all partners in the industry, will manage the application process and training at different venues across Saudi Arabia.

It will also identify areas of support for the final ten candidates and help them register for intellectual property, company formation or innovation development to ensure that “Entaliq with Airbus” program is not just another traditional program, but rather a program that helps the youth and makes sure they are fully prepared for international competition.

Commercial Airliner Flying Fighters, Weapons from Tehran to Damascus


London- At a time when Iran is investing the Nuclear Deal to develop its fleet, U.S. media sources renewed fears that Iranian air companies linked to the Revolutionary Guards would use those jets to send weapons and fighters to Syria.

A report published by Forbes said Iranian commercial aircraft routinely violate international aviation rules by transporting arms and military personnel to Syria, and therefore, “selling aircraft to Iran will expose manufacturers to the risk of becoming complicit in such activities.”

Forbes said Iran was trying to ink a deal to buy up to 500 aircraft over the next decade.

The magazine said: “Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is still number one on the recently-released Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index Report of 2016, which assesses the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing in 149 countries.”

The report coincides with the comments of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who expressed his country’s worries regarding Iran’s transfer of weapons to Yemen.

Also, the international community is worried from an Iranian activity towards refueling conflicts in Arab countries, which Tehran says was protecting its security and national interests.

Last Thursday, Iran announced that a deal with Airbus was in its last phases,” according to Fars news agency, quoting Iranian Minister of Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi.

Forbes warned the Airbus Company to think twice before inking such a deal.

The report said: “The problem with the Islamic Republic’s aircraft shopping spree is that Iran’s state-owned airline, Iran Air, will be the sole company purchasing these aircraft.” It said Iran’s current fleet stands at 36 aircraft while its subsidiary, Iran Air Tours, has 14.

Mahan Air is considered the first Iranian company, which conducted flights to Syria for transferring weapons in 2011.

Iranian and foreign sources had accused Mahan Air for sending weapons to three states: Lebanon, Sudan and Syria. The company also faces several accusations for cooperating with units linked to the Revolutionary Guards and its foreign arms al-Quds Forces.

U.S. House Passes Bill to Block Boeing Aircraft Sales to Iran

Washington-The House of Representatives has passed a measure that would block U.S. aircraft sales to Iran, potentially undercutting a Boeing deal with Tehran worth up to $25 billion.

But the spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Bahram Ghasemi, held the U.S. responsible for hindering all what contradicts the nuclear deal.

Two amendments approved to an appropriations bill from Representative Peter Roskam would ban sales from Boeing and from European rival Airbus, amid concerns the aircraft could be used for military purposes, the congressman said in a statement Friday.

One amendment would prohibit the Office of Foreign Assets Control from using funds to authorize a license necessary to allow aircraft to be sold to Iran. A second would bar loans from U.S. financial institutions to purchase militarily adaptable aircraft.

The ban would need to be approved by the Senate or any bill that reconciles differences in legislation by the two chambers.

The Washington Post quoted a White House official as saying that President Barack Obama is determined to improve relations with Iran.

The official, who refused to be identified, said that the amendments could be obstructed before becoming a law.

Agence France Presse said that the deal, valued at up to $25 billion, would be the largest between a U.S. business and Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Boeing archrival Airbus in January reached a deal to sell Iran 118 aircraft.

But the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said the measure of the House of Representatives was “incompatible” with the accord, under which Washington was to lift economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear activities.

“We have nothing to do with U.S. internal affairs,” Ghasemi said.

“We consider the government of the United States to be responsible for implementing the country’s commitments” under the accord, he added.

Airbus to Launch Aviation Innovation Challenge in Saudi Arabia

Jeddah–Airbus has announced its plan to establish training incubators in Saudi Arabia to attract innovators in the air transport industry.

General Manager of Airbus Middle East Fouad Attar told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper: “The multi-phase “Entaliq with Airbus” is a platform designed to attract young men and women across Saudi Arabia to develop and refine their innovation efforts to promote the aviation industry.” The initiative is set to start in September.

Attar added that the program aims to enable entrepreneurs to move forward in this vital sector, through the main themes related to aviation operations, manufacturing lines and the skill level required for jobs in the aviation industry.

Airbus GM explained that creative ideas will enter a program that shall enhance their ability to compete with other businesses.

Attar explained that through the first phase of the program, the company is looking to attract young people across Saudi Arabia and benefit from their innovations that will develop the aviation industry.

In the second development phase of Entaliq with Airbus, shortlisted applicants will receive online and in-person training in aviation, innovation and business planning, as well as mentoring from industry experts and veterans.

Whereas the third showcase phase will see professional juries select the best applicants to pitch their projects to an expert panel made up of Airbus, TAQNIA Aeronautics, Saudia and other industry leadership. 

General Manager of Airbus Saudi Arabia Ali Milaat, said that Airbus is committed to innovation and entrepreneurship within a sustainable system that enhances the aviation sector. He added: “Innovation is part of Airbus’ DNA.”

Milaat explained that Airbus is willing and able to create an open platform for all innovators that will: “sink its roots deep and remain fruitful in the long term. We are not looking to merely write a check, but to bring our resources, expertise and commitment to bear in helping build an enduring entrepreneurial spirit to the nation.” 

Airbus Middle East is scheduled to open partnership in “Entaliq with Airbus” for all its partners in the aviation sector who share its vision to encourage innovation and sustainable projects in Saudi Arabia.

CEO of TAQNIA Aeronautics Ali Alghamdi owned by the Public Investment Funds, said: “Economies are sustained by entrepreneurs and innovation.” He added that the creation of a new system that promotes these technologies and knowledge will promote the industry.

Airbus Confirms Obstacles Hampering Iranian Deal

London-Concerns in the financial community over deals with Iran are hampering Airbus Group SE’s ability to close a multibillion-dollar aircraft deal with Tehran, the European plane maker’s head of sales said Wednesday.

“We have to find ways to get money out of Iran through the banking system,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer for customers. While progress has been made, it has been slower than expected, Leahy said in a press conference held in Paris on Wednesday.

Funding problems are complicating Iran Air’s attempts to upgrade its fleet, he added.

Iran announced a deal to buy 118 airliners from Airbus valued at $27 billion at list price. The deal, which hasn’t been completed yet, includes everything from Airbus single-aisle planes to 12 of its flagship A380 superjumbos, which carry a list price of $432.6 million, though buyers typically get discounts.

Iran, with a population of more than 80 million and pent-up demand for travel after years of isolation, represents one of the few large remaining untapped markets for new planes.

Leahy said Iran has “an ancient fleet” that needs replacing and will enjoy growth as the country’s economy recovers.

Banks remain reluctant to do deals now that the U.S. and European governments are looking to foster transactions, after facing fines imposed by U.S. regulators on lenders with Iran dealings when western sanctions were in place.

The banking issue goes beyond the airplane sector; oil companies also have struggled to line up big banks to back deals. In some cases, they had to resort to barter arrangements or using smaller banks.

For his part, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in May, “Major European banks have not yet started their interactions with Iranian banks, but some medium- and small-sized financial institutions have established relations, including opening letters of credit.”

He accused “lobbies” in the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stirring up animosity towards Iran to prevent it from reaping the benefits of the landmark nuclear deal signed last July.

When the agreement came into effect in January, Washington lifted sanctions directly related to Tehran’s nuclear program but it maintained others imposed over its ballistic missile program and its alleged support of “terror” groups.

Several European banks have received massive fines in the United States in the past after being found guilty of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and all remain wary of incurring similar punishment.

Official Says EgyptAir Remains Suggest Blast, Head of Forensics Denies

The human remains retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea where EgyptAir flight 804 crashed last week suggest there was an explosion on board, a senior Egyptian forensics official said on Tuesday.

The official said all 80 pieces brought to Cairo so far are small and that “there isn’t even a whole body part, like an arm or a head.”

The official added that “the logical explanation is that it was an explosion.”

The official is part of the Egyptian investigative team and has personally examined the remains at a Cairo morgue where forensic experts were to carry out DNA tests. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to release the information.

But Egypt’s head of forensics denied the official’s claim.

“Everything published about this matter is completely false, and mere assumptions that did not come from the Forensics Authority,” MENA state news agency quoted Hesham Abdelhamid as saying in a statement.

Sources also said that investigators had not so far found any traces of explosives that would suggest it was caused by a bomb.

All 66 people on board were killed when the Airbus 320 crashed in the Mediterranean early Thursday while en route from Paris to Cairo.

On Monday, a French ship joined the international effort to hunt for the black boxes and other wreckage of the plane, as Greek and Egyptian authorities diverged on what happened to the aircraft during the crucial final minutes before its crash.

Egyptian authorities said they believe terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure, and some aviation experts have said the erratic flight reported by the Greek defense minister, Panos Kammenos, suggests a bomb blast or a struggle in the cockpit.

According to the minister the plane swerved wildly and dropped to 10,000 feet before it fell off radar.

But the head of Egypt’s state-run provider of air navigation services, Ehab Azmy told The Associated Press that the plane did not swerve or lose altitude before it disappeared off radar.

Azmy, head of the National Air Navigation Services Company, said that in the minutes before the plane disappeared it was flying at its normal altitude of 37,000 feet, according to the radar reading. “That fact degrades what the Greeks are saying about the aircraft suddenly losing altitude before it vanished from radar,” he added.

“There was no turning to the right or left, and it was fine when it entered Egypt’s FIR (flight information region), which took nearly a minute or two before it disappeared,” Azmy said.

Egypt’s Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek asked his French counterpart to hand over documents, audio and visual records on the plane during its stay at Charles de Gaulle airport and until it left French airspace, his office said on Monday.

He also asked Greek authorities to hand over transcripts of calls between the pilot and Greek air traffic control officials, and for the officials to be questioned over whether the pilot sent a distress signal.