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Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Global Aviation And Airline News

By Dave Simpson

Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of global aviation and airline news.

UK Minister Offers To Mediate Airbus-Qatar Airways Dispute

A British minister has offered to mediate in a row between Airbus and Qatar Airways over costly flaws on the surface of the aircraft maker's A350 passenger jets, three people familiar with the matter said.

Investment Minister Gerry Grimstone made the offer to host a meeting between the sparring groups before the row escalated on Thursday December 9, with Airbus threatening to use a procedure in the English courts to seek an independent legal assessment.

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Asked by Reuters about the prior offer of mediation, a UK official on Friday confirmed the proposal and said it reflected "the importance of Airbus and Qatari investment to the UK".

Airbus and Qatar Airways both declined to comment. People familiar with the situation said there were few signs that the offer was being taken up as the two sides head towards a legal fight over the impact of paint and other skin flaws on the jets.

Qatar Airways says it has been ordered by its regulator to ground 20 of its 53 A350 jets over damage to a layer of anti-lightning protection, arguing that absence of a root cause has left it unable to determine whether safety is affected.

Airbus says that it does understand the cause and on Thursday December 9 accused the Gulf carrier of misrepresenting the problem as a safety issue and of refusing to accept a repair plan.

Industry experts say the deteriorating dispute between two of aviation's key players is unprecedented in public. A Reuters investigation revealed last week that several other airlines had also reported flaws, though none has grounded the long-haul jet.

Qatar Airways has not so far responded to the Airbus legal statement, which was issued late on Thursday December 9 ahead of a weekend in the Gulf.

Emirates Suspends Nigeria Flights After New Restrictions

Emirates airline will suspend all flights to Nigeria from next week after the West African nation imposed new restrictions on its flights, the carrier said on Friday December 10.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority announced earlier on Friday December 10 that it was restricting Emirates to just one weekly flight from 21 that had been initially approved.

The authority said this was in retaliation for the United Arab Emirates declining an application by local carrier Air Peace to fly to Sharjah International Airport three times a week. UAE gave the airline one weekly slot, citing the lack of available arrival slots at the airport.

"With the recently imposed directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will be suspending its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from 13 December 2021, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue," Emirates said in a statement.

In March, Nigeria suspended Emirates from flying into or out of its territory after the carrier imposed additional COVID-19 test requirements on passengers from Nigeria but had lifted the restriction last month.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with a huge diaspora that frequently travels back home and some carriers like British Airways have daily flights to the country.

Air France-KLM Redeems €500m Worth Of Debts And May Raise New Equity

Air France-KLM has redeemed €500 million from an earlier French state loan issued to help the airline cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company said on Monday December 13 it could also raise new equity.

Air France-KLM said it had redeemed 500 million euros out of a €4 billion bank loan guaranteed by France, and had negotiated to extend the maturity on the overall loan from May 6, 2023 to May 6, 2025.

The airline, which like many in its sector has been hit by travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the COVID virus, said it was in talks on strengthening its capital.

"As previously disclosed, discussions are ongoing on further capital strengthening measures at Air France-KLM Group level. These measures could include instruments such as the issuance of equity or quasi-equity instruments, depending on market conditions," Air France-KLM said.

Two sources familiar with Air France-KLM's plans had told Reuters earlier this month that Air France-KLM was considering delaying a planned capital increase because of tough travel restrictions imposed by governments to mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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