SAA, Kenya Airways look to create pan-African airline group
According to SAA interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo, part of the airline’s broader growth strategy is to become a major player in regional travel.
JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways (SAA) and Kenya Airways want to look into a long-term goal of co-starting a pan-African airline group.
The two airlines are signing a memorandum of co-operation in this regard, SAA announced in a statement on Tuesday.
The view is that such a pan-African airline group could, in time, “enhance mutual growth potential by taking advantage of strengths of the two airlines’ busy hubs.”
The agreement does not, however, preclude either of the airlines from pursuing commercial co-operation with other carriers within their route network strategy.
The next step is for both parties is to set up a joint working group to further discuss the memorandum and to put in place systems to achieve their joint objectives.
SAA, which was in business rescue from December 2019 to April 2021, started domestic commercial flights again on September 23 and kicked off regional services again on Tuesday.
SAA stopped commercial flights in May last year when the rescue practitioners indicated that there were insufficient funds to continue with commercial operations.
According to SAA interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo, part of the airline’s broader growth strategy is to become a major player in regional travel and enable business and trade on the continent.
The joint memorandum with Kenya Airways is expected to help with that. In Kgokolo’s view, working with Kenya Airways will also harness internal resources and capacities leading to sustainable and cost-effective growth.
This includes shared services in the areas of route networks, fleet, maintenance, repair, and opportunities to achieve economies of scale. Kgokolo believes the memorandum will also help the tourism sectors in both countries.
For Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka, the future of aviation and its long-term sustainability is hinged on partnership and collaboration.
“Kenya Airways and South African Airways collaboration will enhance customer benefits by availing a larger combined passenger and cargo network, fostering the exchange of expertise, innovation, best practices, and adopting home-grown organic solutions to technical and operational challenges,” said Kilavuka. – FIN24.
Ramaphosa presses WTO for Covid-19 vaccine patents waiver
JOHANNESBURG – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to suspend intellectual property (IP) rights for Covid-19 vaccines to bridge the huge gap in vaccination rates worldwide.
India and South Africa last year brought forward the intellectual property waiver proposal before the WTO, but there has been no consensus.
Proponents argue the temporary removal of IP rights will boost production in developing countries and address the dramatic inequity in access.
But there is fierce opposition from pharmaceutical giants and their host countries, which insist patents are not the main roadblocks to scaling up production and warn the move could hamper innovation.
“The world is at this moment experiencing the debilitating effects of inequality in the patterns of global production,” Ramaphosa told a WTO round table by video link on the pandemic and trade-related issues.
“It is said that less than three percent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low income countries, compared to almost 60 percent in high income countries. This gross inequality is both unjust and counterproductive,” said Ramaphosa, whose country is the worst hit by coronavirus in Africa, both in terms of infections and deaths.
He said: Passing a time-bound targeted TRIPS waiver as proposed by South Africa and India – and now supported by many countries around the world – is urgent if we are to save millions of lives.
TRIPS is a comprehensive WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which is used to resolve trade disputes over IP.
Pressure is mounting for an accord ahead of the 12th ministerial conference of the WTO, which runs from November 30 to December 3 in Geneva.
WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the yawning chasm in vaccination rates between the haves and the have nots was “devastating for the lives and livelihoods of Africans” and “morally unacceptable.”
She added: “That is why it is so important to deliver results at the WTO in the weeks remaining before our 12th ministerial conference.” – AFP.
Petrol prices at eight-year high amid fuel crisis
LONDON – Petrol prices have hit an eight-year high, the RAC has said, due to a rise in the cost of wholesale fuel.
The pump price spike also comes amid the current fuel supply problems and reports of profiteering at some petrol stations.
This is adding up to a “pretty bleak picture for drivers,” the RAC said.
The government has put the army on standby to help ease fuel supply problems caused by a shortage of lorry drivers to make deliveries.
The RAC said that the average price of a litre of petrol across the UK increased from 135.87p on Friday to 136.59p on Sunday, the highest level since September 2013.
The motoring organisation warned that prices could rise further as retailers pass on the cost of rising wholesale prices.
The wholesale price of petrol rose from 123.25p on Monday last week to 125.22p just four days later.
Oil prices slumped at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but demand has been rising in recent months as economies around the world have started to reopen.
Global oil supplies have also taken a hit from hurricanes Ida and Nicholas passing through the Gulf of Mexico and damaging US oil infrastructure.
The price of Brent crude oil rose above $80 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time since October 2018.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “When it comes to pump prices, it’s a pretty bleak picture for drivers.
“With the cost of oil rising and now near a three-year high, wholesale prices are being forced up which means retailers are paying more than they were just a few days ago for the same amount of fuel.
“This has led to the price of a litre of unleaded already going up by a penny since Friday.
“We might yet see higher forecourt prices in the coming days, irrespective of the current supply problems.
“We are also aware of a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by hiking prices, so we’d remind drivers to always compare the price they’re being asked to pay with the current UK averages which are 136.69p for petrol and 138.58p for diesel.”
There is a national shortage of lorry drivers, which haulage firms have blamed on factors including Covid and Brexit. The lack of drivers has been affecting businesses from food firms to petrol stations. – BBC.
Ford makes biggest bet in carmaker’s 118-year history
WASHINGTON – Ford and South Korea’s SK Innovation plan to spend $11.4 billion to construct three battery factories and an assembly plant for electric F-Series pickup trucks in Tennessee and Kentucky, the biggest investment in the US automaker’s history.
The project will create two vast sites to produce electric vehicles and the batteries to power them, employing nearly 11, 000 workers, the companies said on Monday. Ford is spending $7 billion, while battery partner SK is kicking in $4.4 billion. They begin to come online in 2025.
The projects are part of Ford’s plan to invest $30 billion in electric vehicles by 2025, become a player in a market dominated by Tesla and challenge General Motors’ image as leading the legacy automakers. Since becoming Ford’s boss a year ago, Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley has accelerated efforts to make the switch to an all-electric future, earning a plug from President Joe Biden on the electric F-150 and striking a battery joint venture with SK.
Ford shares rose 3.1 percent in pre-market trading Tuesday, and is up 61 percent this year as of the close on Monday.
The Tennessee site to be known as Blue Oval City will occupy 10 square kilometres, making it three times the size of the historic Rouge Complex Henry Ford built in Michigan a century ago.
It will include a battery plant employing about 2, 500 workers and an assembly plant with 3, 300 employees that will produce an electric version of Ford’s larger F-Series pickup, its most profitable product.
In Kentucky, where Ford already has truck and SUV factories, the automaker and SK will construct two battery plants employing about 5, 000 workers. The three battery factories will have the capacity to churn out power sources for more than one million electric vehicles a year, Ford said.
The big investment follows Ford’s move this month to double production at the Michigan factory building the electric F-150 Lightning pickup going on sale next year. The company says it already has 150,000 reservations for the plug-in pickup. Its battery powered Mustang Mach-E also has begun outselling the gasoline-fuelled version of the pony car. – BLOOMBERG NEWS.
Grant Thornton fined R47m for missing ‘red flags’ in UK audit work
LONDON – The UK’s accounting watchdog has imposed sanctions against Grant Thornton Ltd. and a partner at the business, for its role in the alleged accounting fraud at the Patisserie Valerie bakery chain.
The Financial Reporting Council fined Grant Thornton 2.3 million pounds (R47 million), for its auditing work on the company between 2015 and 2017, the regulator said yesterday. It also ordered non-financial sanctions including a review of the audit practice’s culture and reporting to the FRC annually for four years.
The cafe group collapsed in 2019 after more than 90 years in business following an investigation that revealed thousands of false entries in its accounts and resulted in 920 employees losing their jobs.
The company was ultimately rescued by Irish private-equity firm Causeway Capital Partners.
David Newstead, Grant Thornton’s audit engagement partner, was fined 87, 750 pounds, and given a three-year prohibition from carrying out statutory audits, for missing the red flags in the audit of Patisserie Holdings, the bakery’s holding company.
“The audit of Patisserie Holdings Plc’s revenue and cash in particular involved missed red flags, a failure to obtain sufficient audit evidence and a failure to stand back and question information provided by management,” Claudia Mortimore, deputy executive counsel to the FRC, said.
The FRC said both Grant Thornton and Newstead have accepted the failures in the audit work.
“We have co-operated fully with the FRC and acknowledge the investigation’s findings relating to our audits in 2015-2017,” a spokesperson for Grant Thornton said in a statement.
“We regret the quality of our work fell short of what was expected of us in this instance.” – BLOOMBERG NEWS.